“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)
If we’re not careful, we can become skillful at all the wrong things. Paul says here that when it comes to understanding, we need to grow up; but if you’re talking about malice, we need to stay a “little kid.” Growth assumes greater proficiency, but not all activities deserve expertise.
With the media promising to make everything in life simple, it is easy for you and I to become just that: simple! Satisfied with simply comprehending easy things, never bothering to search out ideas and people that require more concentration on our part. Content to read only airy novels or feel-good devotional books or the latest self-affirming paperback. These may have their place, but they are certainly not mind-stretchers. I once knew a pastor’s wife who laughingly admitted that she loved to curl up in bed with one of the old Sugar-Creek Gang Series books! Sad to say, many of us are reluctant to seek out and invest brainpower in authors such as Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, or C.S. Lewis, for instance.
Paul goes on to say, however, that when it comes to malice, we should be as awkward and inept as a toddler—all thumbs. He is the only writer in all the Word of God to use this term, but he uses it or “malicious” five times. It’s the desire to inflict harm, hurt, or suffering on others; and there are those among us who have gotten it down to an art form. They know just the right weapon to use when it comes to wounding other people, and just how to exact revenge when they themselves are hurt. And like the glory-seeking Diotrephes (3 John 9-10), they have a rich vocabulary of “malicious words.”
How good are we at hurting others—intentionally or unintentionally? God says, even though we’re all capable of it, it should be with the clumsiness of a child not the expertise of an adult. On the other hand, when it comes to understanding deep things, especially Spiritual truths, we should be constantly cultivating the keen mind of a mature, godly, man or woman.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: Am I more skillful at understanding or malice? Don’t take it lightly; God doesn’t.