Childlike or Childish?

Dan and I sometimes act like little children.  Watching us in our living room, jumping around like maniacs, whooping and screaming at the TV, yelling at the animated Wii characters on the screen, you kind of forget that we’re a college English instructor and a primary care physician.  You should see us at Disneyland. We literally run from one ride to the next.  Dan and I are so dang competitive, that we can turn just about any event into a game:  “Last one home has to scrub the toilet!” 

That’s why when we were reading our devotional last night, we got stuck on the verse for the day:  “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).  “Great,” I thought.  “No more fun.” 

But then, I recalled Jesus’ words about children.  Jesus loves a childlike spirit.  He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).   

So, we have before us a challenge.  Somehow, we need to heed Paul’s warning to avoid being childish.  However, we need to be childlike for Jesus. 

Dan and I agreed that those people who are blessed with children of their own probably have some better insights into this issue.  They get to witness little acts of childishness and childlikeness on a daily basis.  From a parent’s perspective, they can probably understand which attitudes are Godly, and which ones are just childish. 

I don’t think Paul is being a killjoy.  God wants us to be joyful.  He’s just encouraging us to avoid some of the childish selfishness and whininess.  He wants us to grow up, so that we’re responsible and reliable. 

So my goal is to be far more childlike and dependent on God but far less childish and self-centered. 

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