The Greatest of These, Part IV

I remember my dad yelling at me, “Grow up!” Unfortunately, I find myself repeating the same pattern with my boys. I want them to act older than they are acting and usually as a basis for comparison I use myself. However, some of the things I went through as a kid they’ve not had to face and for them some aspects of the world are still magical that at their age I had already been jaded at. With that said, there comes a time when we need to grow up and act our age.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  – 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, ESV

An area where we really need to grow up is relationships. Too often I see folks being very childish in their relationships. Their relationships tend to be “Me first!” They don’t well describe the agape love that we’ve looked at over the last few devotionals. Think about your relationships and how well you’ve met the agape love standard. If you’re like me, you’re feeling like we all did when our parents screamed at us, “Grow up!” The fact of the matter is we have to grow up.

It’s not acceptable for a child to have a me first attitude. However, based on my continual work with children, to see a child overcome this attitude is a major accomplishment. To see a child early on not have this type of attitude is extremely unusual. Let’s face it: we’re selfish. But when we grow up into adulthood, we aren’t supposed to act like children any more. We are supposed to be mature in our relationships and in our actions. We must give up our childish ways. We must explore relationships where the primary focus isn’t on “Me” but on the other person. This is an ongoing process.

None of us know everything there is to know about our relationships. I had a friend post recently that she and her husband have been married for 13 years. I bet they know things about each other that they didn’t know when they first were married, at the 5 year anniversary point, or even when they celebrated their 10 year anniversary. My wife and I are approaching our 16 year wedding anniversary and I can attest to the fact that I’m still learning about her, learning to love her more, learning to care for her as I should, and being the husband she deserves. As Paul said, I know in part. As I give up more and more of my childish ways, I will know more. And I realize that until my days are done, the darkness and dimness will always be there. I won’t see with His eyes until heaven, but each day He is faithful to open my eyes a little more, so long as I am willing to put aside childish ways and try and grow up.

This is especially true of my relationship with Christ. When I first accepted His Lordship over my life, when I finally acknowledged Him as King and surrendered, I didn’t know Him very well. I just knew He was the Savior I needed, the one who could take away my sins when no one else could. I knew He had a plan for my life, a plan better than anything I or anyone else could come up with, but I didn’t really know Jesus that well. That was 1994. Now, over 17 years later I can say I know Jesus a little better, but while He knows me completely, every day I spend with Him I learn a little more about Him, His grace, His characteristics, His will, and His great love for those who are called by His name. If I am honest with myself, I admit I still don’t know Him very well. How can the bounded understand the unbounded?

Right now I see and know in part. One day I will know fully, just as He already knows me fully. But to make that advancement, to improve my relationship with Jesus, I have to put aside my childish ways that tell me, “Me, me, ME!” I have to put Him first. Every day is a new day to try and grow up with my Savior. What’s holding you back from giving up the Me centered-ness in your relationships and embracing the agape love standard God lays before us? What keeps you from growing to know each person you care about a bit more through adult decisions and adult attitudes? What prevents you from doing the same with your Savior? Whatever it is, get rid of it. As we’ll look at tomorrow, the greatest of these is love. Don’t let anything hold you back from loving people and especially loving God the way He has shown us.

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