Putting Away Childish Things Pt 3: The difference between being childish and being malicious

Intentions are vital — they may not necessarily be important to the people whom we are hurting with our childish behavior, but they are key in whether we will be willing to remain how we are or desire to change.

.

Childish behavior is called childish for a reason. Children aren’t generally malicious when they are very small, they are simply clueless and lack empathy and self-awareness. And there is the difference between the malicious adult and the childish adult — are they aware of the big picture and if they are, do they care?There are, of course, people who are so severely damaged or mentally deranged that they lack the capacity to care and I will not address them here, as this is specifically written for people who care about how their behavior affects others. It would hardly do me any good on a blog like this to reach out to people who have no desire to change what they are doing. It would be more productive to try and destroy my own house by beating my head against it.

.

1

.

If you read the chapter in my book about The Rebellious House-guest, then you already understand the difference between being rebellious and being malicious. You can be a genuinely sweet and funny person and still have no desire to be ruled over. Same thing with childish behavior, you can be childish and still be what the world would call a decent person. But what is our goal? Is it to be acceptable by the world’s standards, or do we want the character of our King?

.

Is it enough to be decent and nice enough and funny and smart? Or does our childish impatience really offend us? Are we sick of being so easily angered, and flying off the handle with our families behind closed doors? Are we tired of hearing ourselves go on and on about our virtues and righteousness yet? Are we daily wishing that we weren’t so incredibly childish still in so many ways, and so good at it that we can do it without even trying?

.

Children don’t try to be childish.  They aren’t childish because they are malicious, they are childish because we were naturally born with a great lack of character which they make better or worse by emulating or rejecting the behavior they see around them — from their parents, their friends, what’s on the television, etc.  If all things are optimal, these character flaws will be rooted out by the time we reach adulthood, through training and experience.  But life isn’t optimal, and optimal isn’t the same as idyllic.  There are many childish flaws that will not be uncovered by what we would call a perfect life.  How do you know how to respond to death maturely if your life was so perfect that it never came up?  How do you respond to temptation maturely if you were never allowed to face it?  You see, there is no perfection to be had through an easy life — and our unrefined childishness will quietly haunt us until revealed through circumstance.  An optimal life gives us the good and bad over time and allows us to adapt and if we have good examples, to grow up.  We cannot guarantee a mature response to a circumstance we have never faced.

.

And so I hope you see that childishness should not be seen as an insult, it should be seen as an opportunity to grow up.  As children, wasn’t that what we wanted?  To grow up?

.

So much evil out there, so many of the things that drive us crazy about other people and so many of the things that drive us crazy about ourselves — there is nothing malicious about it.  It’s simply someone being childish.  It is someone acting in a way that seems perfectly reasonable to them, and they think that everyone who takes issue with it has the problem.  But I’m not talking to them, I am talking to the people who care to read this.

.

Do we want to be childish, or are we sick to death of it? Have we had enough of people thinking that we are purposefully being jerks when in fact we are simply childish and oftentimes acting and responding as children do, without thinking? Children act according to their instincts, largely without thinking things through. You want to know why patience is listed first in the I Cor 13 admonitions about what love is and isn’t? Simply put, because the primary difference between adult and childish behavior is developing the patience to think the situation through before acting. Patience before we get angry, patience before we start that list of grievances, patience before we make that cruel remark, patience to contemplate our shortcomings before we start bragging, patience to consider what we have before we start being envious, patience enough to cover, endure, wait and hope. Children have no patience, it must be learned. And if we missed it the first time around, we need to start doing it now.

 

image_pdfimage_print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *