Hayden asks: “Matthew 18:2-4 talks about having a child-like faith. In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul says when he became a man he put away childish things. Pastor John, can you explain the differ-ence and the similarities between child-like faith and becoming a spiritually mature man?”
Well, in summary, Tony, the way I would put it is this: Trust like a child, think like a man. 1 Corinthians 14: “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in your evil, but in your thinking be mature.” So clearly we are not supposed to be like children in our thinking. Or 2 Timothy 2:7, “Think over what I say, Timothy. The Lord will give you understanding.” Or 1 Corinthians 13, that the questioner referred to: “When I was a child I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I be-came a man I gave up childish ways.” And so, no, a mature man shouldn’t think like a one year old. One year old’s can’t think, they can’t reason out what they need to. And the Bible says, John 7: “Do not judge by appearances, judge with right judgment.” In other words, as you grow older you learn how to make right judgments. That is what we want for our kids. We don’t want them to use their minds at age 15 like they did at age 5. We want them to have the capacities to make judgments. “Test all things. Hold fast to what is good.” Why? Because “you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind,” the Bible says. In fact, here is a really strange and provocative word from Paul in 1 Corinthians 8: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know.” Now my interpretation of that is this: right knowing is in the service of loving. And if your knowing doesn’t produce loving, you don’t know right yet. And now I would say the same thing about faith. Right knowing or right thinking, the right use of your mature mind, is for the sake of child like faith.
We should grow up in our thinking, so that we can grow down in our humility, so that we can have faith like a child. So the text that was referred to is: “Truly I say to you, unless you are turn and become like a child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the great-est in the kingdom of heaven.” So the point there is humility. What kind of humility? Well, picture a lit-tle child in a stroller standing in a line at a bank with his mom and all these people are around him fret-ting about their finances. And he is asleep in this totally public, anxious, financially driven setting. Why? Because he knows momma is right there. I don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from. I don’t worry about my finances, whether I am going to be able to pay for college. My momma is right behind the stroller. That is what I know. If I didn’t believe that, I would panic. But that is what faith is. So child like faith is a humble faith that sits in a stroller, believes God is standing behind us, doesn’t get anxious about all kinds of things. And the reason God gave us brains, mature, adult, sophis-ticated, hard thinking, studying, brains, is to understand the Bible and the work of God well enough to become that kind of child.
Thank you Pastor John. Thank you. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Please email your questions to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. At desiringgod DOT org you will find thousands of free books, articles, sermons, and other resources from John Piper. … I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.