The Christian a Child in Time, a Man in Eternity
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man…

This is the case in relation to —

I. SPEECH. "I spake as a child." The Christian's speech in eternity will be characterised —

1. By clearness. Our speech here, like that of children, is often unintelligible, mere jargon. The reason is our conceptions are ill-defined. Clear speech requires a clear head. In heaven thoughts are clear, and complete as balls of radiant crystal.

2. By reality. Our speech here, like that of children, is frequently nothing more than the vehicle of mental fantasies and conjecture. But speech in eternity is the organ of reality. Words there are things. They are truths made vocal.

3. By comprehensiveness. How meagre the vocabulary of a child! Our speech here, like that of children, is limited to a very small range of things. Not so in heaven. The soul will range over the whole domain of facts, receive true impressions of all, and speak them out.

4. By sublimity. Our speech here, like that of children, is not of the most exalted and soul-inspiring character. In heaven every word will be electric, every sentence radiant, and quickening as the sunbeam.

II. UNDERSTANDING, "I understood as a child." The Christian's understanding here is like that of a child in several respects.

1. In feebleness. The child's intellect, like his body, in the first stages is very feeble. It is incapable of any great effort. It is thus with the Christian here. We say of such a man — he has a great intellect. But in reality what a small amount of truth can the most vigorous hold within his grasp! In heaven the understanding will be strong, unencumbered by matter, unchecked by disease, unclouded by sin. It will grow young with age and strong with exercise.

2. In sensuousness. A child's understanding is under the control of the senses. It judges by appearances. Is it not so with the Christian? He is prone to "mind earthly things," "to judge after the flesh."

3. In relativeness. The child judges of all things by their relation to himself. His father may be an author or a statesman, but the child knows nothing of him in those relations. As a father only he knows him. So with the understanding of a Christian. His conceptions of God are purely relative. Redeemer, Father, Master. Thus only is He regarded. What He is in Himself, what He is in the universe, he understands nothing. In eternity we shall "see Him as He is."

4. In servility. The child yields his understanding up to others. So it is often with Christians here. Not so in heaven. Each with a full consciousness of his individuality will be independent in his investigations and conclusions.

III. REASONING. "I thought as a child." How does the child reason? From an insufficiency of data. Having neither the power nor the opportunity of making an adequate observation and comparison, he draws his conclusions from passing impressions and unfounded conjectures. Thus it is often with the Christian here. His knowledge of the facts of God and the universe on which he reasons is so limited, that his conclusions are often inconclusive and puerile.

2. From the impulse of desire. In all cases his wish is the father to the thought. It is too often so with the Christian here. Their likings control their logic. Not so in heaven.Conclusion: This subject teaches —

1. The educational character of this life. The true view of this life is that it is a school for eternity. Be reconciled to this state. Struggle on till you "put away childish things." We shall leave this school soon for the family mansion and the grand inheritance.

2. The organic unity of man through all the scenes and stages of his being. Though the man here talks and judges and reasons very differently to what he did when a child, he is nevertheless the same being. Man in heaven is but the child matured. We shall never be greater than men.

3. The necessity of modesty in the maintenance of our theological views.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

WEB: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.

The Child and the Man
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