“Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.” (Reference: 1 Corinthians 14:20 )
There is much talk and conversation about the innocence of childhood, and I agree with that – up to a point. Little children can be the picture of innocence right up to the point where they do something they have been told not to! Having been a child myself, and raising three children, I KNOW that children are not as innocent as popular opinion would have us believe. But the “naughty” things that children do (for the most part) are not the type of horrifying sin that adults do. To really be truly sinful inside and out, it takes an adult. That is why the writer of I Corinthians can say “be infants in evil”.
The silly willful mischievous that children do such as taking cookies when they should not, touching things they’ve been told to stay away from, making a scene in a store, and other things that with time and perspective fade to memories. And if one follows all of the advice in this verse, the thinking adult will veto the small “evils” that children will do, and will use wisdom and insight to correct the missteps of the human spirit.
Menno Simons (one of the prominent leaders in the historic Anabaptist faith) said the test of rebirth is whether the innocence of children is found in our hearts. He said further, “And, verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Test yourself with these. If you are born of the pure seed of the holy Word, the nature of the seed must be in you. And if you have become like little children . . . then pride, unchastity, avarice, hatred, and envy no longer reside in you, for the innocent children know nothing of such sins.”
It is true – children are taught these things, by “unthinking” adults. Consider that; it is the teachings of adults that lead children into sin and to a knowledge of what sin is. It would be unconscionable NOT to teach children the difference between sin and goodness. But to teach a child TO sin – well, the depths of hell are prepared for such people.
This concept of being as innocent as a child is one reason that rebirth happens in adulthood. The small things I mentioned up above, and other little naughty things have either been outgrown by adulthood; or have manifested themselves into arrogance and insensitivity in adulthood. Either way, the sins of adulthood are of deeper and wider consequence. Going back to the innocence of a child is a way of placing ourselves under the direction and guidance of our parental God. We learn the lessons of life and come to know their consequences. It is then that we turn away from all wrongdoing and fully embrace the purity and innocence of childhood even as we retain the understanding of the mature mind.
May you gentle reader be as innocent as a child under the loving hand of our Lord, and may your small missteps bring you closer to God. Selah!