One-a-Day...for the Heart: Child's Play
If the first thing that pops into your mind about this title is a 1988 horror film about a doll named Chucky, you’re at the right place, reading the right devotional, at the right time, because it is NOT about anything remotely grisly, ghastly, or gruesome. Hopefully, you’ll be able to clear the Chucky cobwebs out of your mind and think of something purer, lovelier, and truer.
“Child’s play,” from a healthier frame of reference, refers to something that is very easy or simple to perform and could be done by a child. Riding a bicycle is a simple skill most kids master, but it usually doesn’t come without a few scraped knees. Wooden building blocks occupy toddlers until they discover Legos and move on to bigger and better building challenges. The innocence of a baby doll or stuffed teddy bear is soon replaced by the Barbie and Ken dynasty. Still, it is all child’s play—the job of being a child—where so many physical, academic, and social skills are developed.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Bible describing the agape love of God, the Apostle Paul says, in verse 11, When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. He had just been describing the qualities of divine love and exhorting us to have those qualities over all other attributes and gifts. Qualities like patience, not the impatience children have from the time they wail for their first bottle.
Agape love is not boastful or proud or rude. We can probably all recall the braggarts (loud, arrogant boastful loudmouths, according to Webster’s Dictionary) in our neighborhoods and classrooms. God’s love does not demand its own way. Some kids go from the terrible twos to the terrible threes, fours, tens, twenties, forties, to the terrible eighties, demanding their way right up to Heaven’s gates (if they make it there). Agape love is not irritable. Take a child’s favorite toy away, and you’ve got irritable with a capital “I”. God’s love doesn’t keep a record of wrong, but probably right now each of us can remember a time, or times, when we’ve been wronged—even as far back as first grade or earlier--and it still stings.
Divine love rejoices when the truth wins out. I never rejoiced at losing Old Maid or Monopoly, but I grew to love the game more than the winning as I got older and put away that childish thing of needing to win. God’s love never gives up, Paul reminds us. Much of good parenting is encouraging our children to keep trying and never give up, because much of life is learned through failing and trying again and again and again. So Paul’s exhortation to put away childish things makes a lot of sense after having described what real love looks like. The childish things—being impatient, rude, proud, boastful, loud, demanding, irritable, quitting when the going gets tough, etc.—must be put away in order to grow in agape love, which has the highest rating of the three things that will last forever: faith, hope, and love.
Even our childish mindsets, which can actually become strongholds (wrong patterns of thinking the enemy uses to entrap us) must be torn down in order that we grow into the full stature of Christ, learning how to agape love. Let’s get the toy box out and put away our childish things. It’s time to grow in love, for, three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT).
© 2021, Chris Werre