Thursday, August 9, 2012

Childish Ways

Picture by Elizabeth Liberty

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. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11

How do we decide if certain things are childish? As Christians, we want to be responsible teenagers and adults. But does that mean we have to leave behind things like climbing trees, enjoying walks in the rain, playing with puppies, and using our imagination?

Since I am a relatively young man, this subject comes up a lot among my friends, and I think I have a good idea of how to decide whether something should be left in childhood or can be taken with us through the teenage years and even into adulthood.

To start, this verse from 2 Timothy 2:22:

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Notice that it doesn’t say flee all of youth, but just the evil desires of youth.

Next, a verse that is popular among the young, 1 Timothy 4:12:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 

These two verses show quite a bit of what being an adult is about: Pursuing righteousness, faith, love, peace, and purity, and making sure these things show in our life, including the words we say. How do climbing trees or walking in the rain or playing with puppies or using our imaginations get in the way of those things?

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 

And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them. -- Mark 10:13-16

It is clear from the Bible that a child-like faith is seen as a good thing, because it lacks the skepticism and fear that is common among adults. Children can just believe. Since a child-like faith is good, why not a child-like joy in the simple pleasures of the life God has given us?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! -- Philippians 4:4

If such a joy affects our ability to be responsible and righteous Christian adults, then yes, it is a problem that must be dealt with, and is not a good thing. It is rejoicing in ourselves rather than rejoicing in the Lord.

But if our joy brings only good, then who can question it? If it is looked down on by people who think you are “too old for such things”, why should you care, as long as you know it is not affecting your pursuit of the Biblical definition of adulthood?

Certainly, there are some activities so juvenile that they should be avoided by adults and we must use discernment about such things. However, there are also some activities that are wrongly stigmatized as childish by adults who have pushed aside the good parts of youth along with the bad. King David danced for the Lord in a way that was not “dignified,” and was judged wrongly by his own wife for it, while God approved of it.

May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. -- Psalm 68:3

There is nothing inherently immature about someone who climbs trees, enjoys walks in the rain, plays with puppies, and uses their imagination, as long as those things do not interfere with the pursuit of righteousness, faith, love, peace, and purity. This doesn’t mean that you have to do them, only that you can if you want to and are able to exercise discernment regarding them.

If you are worried about whether some things you enjoy are too childish, give them a simple objective examination. If they are not too ridiculous and pass the Biblical criteria for adulthood, then never worry about them again without significant cause.

Adulthood isn’t about being solemn, but about being responsible and righteous. Let your thoughts go to praise and thanksgiving to God instead of to being self-conscious, and know that He is pleased with your joy.

Are you one of those who worries about whether something you like to do is too childish?

*All Bible verses are from the NIV.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner


  1. *grins* I jumped at this when I saw the title of it posted in your Google+ stream. :D

    Knowing me as you do, you knew I would enjoy this article. :D Very good thoughts Jonathan. You have covered the topic thoroughly and thoughtfully. Thankyou for sharing! I agree entirely. ;)

    1. Thank you, BushMaid! I knew you would like it. :D

  2. Very good article, it covered the topic simply but comprehensively.

  3. Awesome article, Jonathan! You used good passages & drew good conclusions.

  4. Glad to see my love for being several feet up a tree made the cut... :D Excellent post!

  5. *smiles* I love this article. Thank you for sharing, Jonathan. :)

  6. I really liked this article, Jonathan. One of my favorites.

  7. It's great to see another theological article from you! (Although I realize I'm late to the commenting party...) Wonderful thoughts. :)

    1. Thank you, Aubrey! I hope to write some more soon.

      I'm glad to see your comments, late or not. ;)