Week 7: The New Testament and Children Cont’d

Day 2: Growing Up, Part I – Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13,14; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 13:11; 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2; Matthew 18:3

When I was ten or eleven years old, my family met a family whose child would never grow up. I don’t mean that she wouldn’t grow, I mean she would never mature past the state of infancy. When we met them, the child was in her early twenties. She could not speak, could not walk, could do nothing for herself. I remember watching the father of the family move her from one place to another because she was helpless.

Even as a little girl, might heart broke. Babies are supposed to grow and mature. Supposed to go out and live lives and pursue dreams and, by God’s grace, conquer the problems that life throws at them. But this child would never have that opportunity. I do not know the medical cause of this particular situation. I was too young and probably wouldn’t have understood if someone had taken the time to explain. I would have tried, but, knowing my make-up at the time, I probably would have been too busy thinking about that child’s life to have really thought through the medical why of things. I remember wanting to cry.

Perhaps God’s perfect knowledge of such situations is why He repeatedly uses children as an illustration of His desire for us to grow. He wants us to mature, not to stay in an infantile state our entire lives. Like childhood, the process is not always easy, but it pleases the Father, just as our growing and maturing pleases our earthly parents.

In Galatians 4:19 the Apostle Paul expresses the desire and effort with which he works to see the Galatian believers mature, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.” He is laboring, as a woman giving birth, seeking to see Christ formed in these Christians, and yet he seems to have doubt. He seems to feel that they are not growing as they should. How often I have heard mothers express concern over their young children because in some way or another the child was not developing at the same rate as other children around them. Paul is expressing the same emotion.

He expresses the same desire to the Ephesian believers in Ephesians 4:13-15 “Till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

In many homes, a door or wall can be found on which little hash marks have been made to indicate the growth of the children in the house. I’ve even been in some homes where the marks were made on some sort of chart, so that if the family moved, the chart could be taken with them. Most children have human marks they are trying to meet or pass. In our family, it starts with Grandma, then me as the next shortest adult in the family, then my two sisters, followed by their husbands and finally Grandpa. They are so excited as they get closer to that mark.  Christ is our mark. God wants us to be growing and maturing to be more like His Son, to reach the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” He knows that as we mature we will not be so easily deceived by false doctrine. He wants that protection and stability in our lives. He does not want us to be tossed to and fro by every whim of teaching that comes along.

Paul admonished the Corinthians, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men.” (1 Corinthian 14:20) He’s saying, When it comes to wickedness and causing others harm or breaking the law, be as children, don’t let your mind go to those things. But, when it comes to understanding be men, be mature. He didn’t want them to be as that child that would never grow up.

To be Continued…

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