As new converts to Christ begin to read, mark, and inwardly digest the Scriptures, they grow spiritually. Paul uses an analogy for this kind of growth in 1 Corinthians 13:11. He writes, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” Children act like children, but one day, if things are normal, children become adults and behave like adults. They “put away childish things.” In the context of the chapter, Paul means that as believers mature in their faith, they learn how to love as God loves. A baby needs to be loved but does not know how to love in return. But eventually the baby grows up and learns how to give love as well.
Believers need to learn how to love as God loves. They need to move from just being loved to giving love or from “need love” to “gift love.” The key lies in the measure of spiritual maturity. The measure of our spiritual maturity lies in our ability to feed on the Word of God and grow up!
If you are a new believer, the Gospels are a good place to start training in spiritual maturity. There you can get to know Jesus. Read eyewitness accounts of His life. You can watch Him heal a leper, listen to His sermons and parables, follow Him to Jerusalem, stand at His cross, visit His tomb, and meet Him in the garden like Mary Magdelene did. You can learn how to love Him.
Of course, as you learn the behavior God expects of His followers from the Bible, you need to obey. Whenever you come to a command, underline it. Then go out into your day and try to do what it says. For example, see John 13:34. “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.” This may sound simple at first, but even mature believers can struggle with loving others.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul wrote a letter to a lot of unloving people and showed them how things could be different. Paul defines and describes and shows how love works. Using 1 Corinthians as a guide and the gospels as an illustration of love walking our planet in the person of Jesus Christ, you can learn what real love looks like in practical ways that can be lived out every day. I encourage you to read the Bible, see the many ways God demonstrates His love for you, and then share that love with others.
Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine and ministry.