Part 5: Grow Up
1 Corinthians 13:11
Pastor Morris Brown
May 13, 2018
Years ago, a man named Art Linkletter hosted a TV show called, Kids Say the Darndest Things. On the show Linkletter would ask kids ages 5 to 8 a series of questions. And in their responses the kids would say, well, “the darndest things!” Well, in one-episode Mr. Linkletter asked kids a series of questions about mothers. Here are some of the questions he asked, along with the answers the kids gave.
Q1: Why did God make mothers?
A: God made mothers so we’d have someone to help us out when we were being born!
Q2: What was you mom like when she was a little girl?
A: I don’t know, but my guess is she was pretty bossy!
Q3: What did your mom need to know about your dad before she married him?
A: She needed to know his last name, how old he was, and if he made more than $800 a year.
Q4: Why did your mom marry your dad?
A: Grandma said it was because she didn’t have her thinking cap on!
Q5: Who’s the boss at your house?
A: Mom is. She really doesn’t want to be the boss, but she has to because my daddy’s such a goof ball!
Q6: What would it take to make your mom perfect?
A: My mom is already perfect on the inside. But, on the outside it would take some plastic surgery, a diet and a little hair color!
Children are great, aren’t they? They make us laugh, surprise us with their wisdom, keep us honest. While children are great, childish behavior is not - especially in adults. That’s why we’re continuing our “Up” worship series today with a message entitled, “Grow Up!” You see, in this series we’re exploring seven ways to live a more effective life. We’re exploring seven things our faith says we can do to live a life that blesses the people we encounter each day. And today our faith says that if we’re going to live a more effective life, if we want to live a life that blesses the people who cross our path, we may need to “grow up;” mature in some important areas of our lives.
In the passage we read from 1 Corinthians 13 this morning, the apostle Paul puts it this way. He says, “When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But, when I became an adult I realized I had to put an end to childish ways!” To live an effective life, to live a life that blesses others, Paul says, “I had to mature. I had to grow up!”
So, here’s the question: Are there some “childish ways” our faith says we may need to “put an end to” so we can “grow up” into the person God created us to be, a person who’s living an effective life? I think there are. And on this Mother’s Day I’d like to suggest a few of them.
First, to live an effective life we may need to “put an end to” a life marked by FAULTFINDING and “grow up” into a life marked by FULLER RESPONSIBILITY.
You know, when kids make mistakes or do things that are wrong they often try to pass the buck, blame their siblings or even their imaginary friends! Well, the truth is, when we make mistakes, when we do things wrong, when we make a mess of our lives many of us have the tendency to do the same thing. We find fault in others, pass the buck, blame somebody else.
We can be like the baseball coach who got frustrated when his centerfielder made two errors in one inning. The coach called him into the dugout and told him he was going to play centerfield himself. Well, when the next batter came to the plate he hit a ground ball into center field. Unfortunately, the ball took a bad hop and hit the coach in the mouth. When the next batter came to the plate he hit a high fly ball into deep centerfield. This time the coach lost the ball in sun, and it bounced off his forehead and fell to the ground. Just as the coach was recovering a third batter came to the plate. He hit a line drive into centerfield. The coach charged the ball, but he misjudged it and it hit him in the eye.
Well, that was all the coach could take. So, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the collar and shouted, “You idiot! You’ve got centerfield so messed up I can’t even play it!” Sometimes we can find ourselves being like that coach, can’t we? We focus on the faults of others. We blame others when things go wrong. We refuse to take responsibility. The truth is, that’s a childish way to live. It’s an unhealthy way to live. It’s not the way God calls mature people to live. So, if we want to live effectively we need to stop finding fault with others, stop blaming others when things go wrong. Instead, we need to take some responsibility, even full responsibility, for our mistakes.
Second, to live an effective life we may need to “put an end to” a life of marked by HUBRIS and “grow up” into a life marked by HUMILITY.
Webster defines “hubris” as “excessive pride, arrogance or egotism.” To live a life marked by hubris is to be so prideful we think we don’t need the help of anyone else. When my boys were little one of the books they loved for their mother and I to read to them was a little book called, All by Myself. In case you don’t know the book, it’s a story about a little boy who is learning to be independent. And every time someone offers to help him tie his shoes or get dressed or anything else he says, “No, I can do it all by myself!” When children are little it is important for them to learn to do things all by themselves. And they should be proud when they can. But, as we grow into adults that independent attitude can lead to a hubris attitude in which we say, “I don’t need others. I have all the answers. I can do life all by myself!” And that is childish!
A friend of mine told me about an elderly couple in his church. The husband was blind. The wife was deaf. Whenever my friend would ask them how they were getting along the man would say, “Just great! She’s my eyes, and I’m her ears. Together we’re doing what neither of us can do alone.” He’s right, isn’t he? No one can do life alone. Not even Jesus did everything “all by himself.” Instead, he enlisted the help of twelve friends to aid him in his ministry. So, if we want to live effectively, we may need to stop being filled with hubris, humble ourselves and admit we need the help of others to do what we can’t do alone.
Third, if we want to live an effective life we may need to “put an end” to a life marked by POUTING and “grow up” into a life marked by PLIABILITY.
When things don’t go their way, you know what children can be really good at? Pouting! They throw temper-tantrums, hold their breath, and pitch all kinds of fits! And occasionally that works for children! But, the truth is, it doesn’t work very well for adults.
For example, I read a story about a 47-year-old New York man stopped at a Roy Rogers restaurant on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get something to eat. He ordered mac and cheese, but the waitress told him they’d run out. Instead of expressing his disappointment and choosing to order something else on the menu, however, the man became extremely upset. So, upset that he began cursing at the waitress and throwing condiments. Unable to calm the man down, the manager called the police who not only arrested the man, but they cited him for “disorderly conduct” and, get this, “failure not to act like a toddler when refused his favorite food!”
Now, maybe you’ve never pitched a fit and started cussing and throwing condiments when you didn’t get your favorite food at a restaurant, but can I ask you something? Do we ever act like that man? I mean when things don’t go our way at home or at the office or at church - do we ever pout or throw a temper tantrum or act out in passive aggressive ways or simply “take our ball and go home?” My guess is, we sometimes do! And, the truth is, that’s a childish way to act.
Instead, we need to be more pliable. We need to grow in our understanding that things in life will rarely go exactly the way we expect or want them to. Jesus understood this. That’s why in Matthew 12:7 he reminds the Pharisees, who were very strict in their interpretation of religion that God, “Prefers a flexible heart!” I have a wonderful friend who’s gets this. At the end of each email she sends to people she puts the following quote, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break!” Now, my friends quote is not in the bible. But, it certainly is biblical! For it, reminds us that to live effective lives we need “to put away” a life marked by pouting and “grow up” into a life marked by pliability!
Fourth, to live effectively we may need to “put an end” to a life that is SELF-CENTERED and “grow up” into a life that is SERVANT-CENTERED.
You know, when we were born we were all self-centered. As infants the world revolved around us. Our parent’s schedule revolved around our wants and our needs. And that’s normal! Babies need to be the center of attention to survive. The problem is we live in a culture that tempts us to continue to be very “self-centered” well into our adult years! We can see this in one of our current obsessions, to use our smartphones to take “selfies” - pictures of ourselves taken by ourselves!
As we grow, however, our faith reminds us that we need come to the realization that life is not only about us. It’s also about others. We need to come to the realization that mature people have a healthy self-esteem, but they are not self-centered. Instead they are becoming servant centered. Jesus reminded us of this. He said, “I came not to be served, but to serve and give my life away as a ransom for many.”
There’s a story that comes to us from WW2. Near the end of the war when the Americans were liberating a Nazi concentration camp they came across a Jewish mother and her two young children who had been hiding in a building. When the soldiers found them, they saw that they’d nearly starved to death. So, one of the soldiers immediately handed the mother a loaf of bread. The mother took the loaf, broke it in half and gave one to each of her two children. Seeing this, the soldier turned to a buddy and said, “Look at that, she has kept none for herself! Is it because she is not hungry?”
“No,” the other soldier said, “It’s because she is a mother.”
Like that mother, people who are on the path to maturity know that an effective life is not the self- centered life. Instead they know that an effective life is a service-centered life. So, they use the gift of their life to serve others.
Finally, to live effectively we may need to “put an end” to a life driven by FEAR and “grow up” into a life driven by FAITH.
You may remember the story of the little boy whose mother asked him to go down into the basement of their house one night to get a broom she needed to use to sweep up the kitchen floor.
“Mommy,” the little boy said, “I’m scared to go down into the basement. It’s dark down there and something might get me.”
“Oh,” the mother smiled, “You don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is down there and he’ll look after you.”
The little boy looked at his mother and said, “Are you sure Jesus is in the basement?”
“Absolutely,” the mother replied, “Jesus is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him.”
The little boy thought about that for a minute. Then he went to the basement door, peered down the steps and said, “Hey Jesus, since you’re down there anyway, would you please bring my mamma her broom?”
Children often have a lot of fears. Like that little boy they can be afraid of the dark, afraid of monsters, afraid of ghosts. And that’s okay. But, when we, as adults, allow our lives to be ruled by fear it can become a huge problem. The fear of failure, fear of not being liked, fear of the unknown can affect us in negative ways. It can cause us to make bad decisions. It can keep us from taking chances that may bless our lives. It can keep us from becoming the people God wants us to be. If we want to live effectively, we may need to face our fears and move forward with faith. The faith that God is with us, ready to help us through every step of our lives.
“When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But to grow up,” Paul says, “I had to put away childish things.”
So, let me ask, “Do you and I want to live lives that are effective? Do we want to live lives that bless the people around us; lives that bless the entire world?” Then, we may need to put an end to a life marked by faultfinding and grow up into a life marked by full responsibility. We may need to put an end to a life marked by hubris and grow up into a life marked by humility. We may need to put an end to a life marked by pouting and grow up into a life marked by pliability. We may need to put an end to a life marked by selfishness and grow up into a life marked by service! We may need to put an end to a life marked by fear and grow up into a life marked by faith. Doing this may be the best Mother’s Day gift we can give ourselves and to the people who cross the paths of our lives.