1Co 13:11-13 “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. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
In previous verses, Paul has spoken about things that we have here “in part.” God, in His wisdom, has shown to us a measure of who He is. In the flesh, we are not able to fully grasp His judgment, mercy, grace, and love. He gives us faith sufficient to have great hope in Him for our salvation.
As natural children, we had to learn to speak. Those of us who have been blessed to spend time around little ones can call to mind things they have said that still brings a smile to our face. There is a joy in hearing little ones learn to speak and a sweet innocence in the way they express things. Their comments were an expression of their childish understanding and their childish thinking.
However, there comes a time when we no longer enjoy hearing our children speak childishly. It is one thing for our five year old to declare they know everything; it is quite a different matter for them to still behave as if that were true at twenty-five. As they grow, we expect them to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. We encourage them to learn to think and reason so they are equipped to face life as an adult. There will come a day when they will need to put childish things aside.
In the kingdom of God here, we enter as babes who have need of milk. We may have the childish concept that we know everything when we are newly come to knowledge of Christ. Our understanding and our thinking are limited by our lack of knowledge: we know only in a limited fashion. As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2Pe 3:18), we are able to understand better and think more deeply.
The result of growing in grace and knowledge is that we begin to have a truer concept of how limited we are. The more we grow, the greater our God becomes in our understanding. We put away our childish, know-it-all attitude and realize as mature Christians that He is more than our finite minds can ever fully embrace. Even as we realize that we see through a glass darkly, our anticipation grows stronger of that day when we shall truly see, face-to-face, the perfection of God.
Understanding that we are limited and only know in part is proof of putting away childish things. Having a sure expectation of someday knowing as we are known is proof that charity never fails. We are blessed to have abiding with us these three; faith, hope, and charity. It is our conviction (faith) in the finished work of Jesus Christ that causes us to have confidence (hope) that we shall not always see through a glass darkly. It is our conviction in His finished work that is the ultimate proof of His wondrous charity for us.
Someday, we will no longer need faith. We will rest in the fullness of that which we have believed of our Lord Christ. There will be no more need for hope, because we will see clearly the wonder of God our Savior and Creator (for that which a man sees he no longer needs to hope for – Rom 8:24). The fullness of our faith and hope are ultimately the result of the love of Jesus Christ for His people. We will finally and for all eternity witness the fullness of His never-failing love.
May we rejoice daily in the wondrous majesty of God that has given us faith, hope, and charity…and charity never fails!