By Lynn Jones
Growth is an exciting thing in our lives. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
It is a long way from childhood to adulthood, and it doesn’t happen overnight. In thousands of ways, some visible, but most imperceptible, the journey is made from childhood to maturity. And, finally, the child arrives at the level of genuine maturity.
That needs to take place spiritually and emotionally, as well as physically, in our lives. In Paul’s words, we need to “put childish ways behind us.” Things like selfishness that runs counter to love. Throwing a tantrum because we can’t have our way. Boasting, being rude, self-seeking.
Let me tell you what the adult stage of maturity is. It is love—God’s kind of love. Love grows. It never stops. It can lead to transformation in our lives.
A cartoon showed an ugly little caterpillar on a leaf of a tree. Out in front of the caterpillar was the most beautiful butterfly, the sunlight shimmering off its multicolored wings. The caption of the cartoon contained the words of the little caterpillar. He was saying, “Mother, you’re beautiful.”
How could the little caterpillar realize that in God’s plan for him, he one day would undergo the same kind of transformation? He would move from being a caterpillar that feeds on and destroys the leaves around it to becoming a butterfly of great beauty. One that would not destroy but would benefit and bless the flowers from which it lightly feeds.
It is amazing to think about that kind of change, but I’ll tell you an even more amazing change. It is the change that takes place in us when we allow God’s love to touch and change us. When by His help we begin to be transformed from selfish, self-centered people into people who are controlled by His kind of self-giving love.
Our language betrays us by making us think that life is mostly about taking. For example, we take a trip, take a vacation, take a drive, take an exam, take a drink. Finally, when we are worn out by all that taking, we take a nap. What we need to do is balance all of that out by giving our time, our attention, our thanks, and our love.
There are many wonderful things in this life. Paul identified three of them–faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). There seems to be some progression in these three great traits in the Christian life. Faith is the starting point of the journey as we are saved by faith. Hope is the result of this faith commitment, and so is love, but “the greatest of these is love.”
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.