Please pardon the paraphrase in the title. When we were discussing the above passage in our women's study, it just seemed I should come up with something else. No woman wants to be told to "Act like a man." Of course we understand that it is the "universal he" commonly used in writing, but it made for a light moment in a heavy class. Paul is telling us all to "act like adults" instead of the big babies he speaks of in I Corinthians. We found it helpful to make a list of how to do that based on this passage.
1. Be watchful. What happens every time your teenage child leaves the house and you say, "Be careful?" Right, the old eye roll, as if it were a ridiculous thing to say. Immature minds cannot conceive of the dangers out there simply because they have no experience with them. Young people think they are immortal and that we are silly to even worry. Why, nothing is going to happen to them! We aren't a bit better when we go out into the world with no care at all for the "roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." He is out there—every minute of every day, and he has YOU in his sights. If you want to act like an adult, then be watchful.
2. Stand firm in the faith. Children lose their focus and become distracted. When things become tedious, they get bored and decide they don't like it any more. When difficulties arise, they quit. Adults, on the other hand, keep on till the end, till the job is finished, till the goal is reached, till the aim has been accomplished. God is counting on us to stick with it. If we won't do it with the physical things of this life, why do we think we will when our spiritual lives face hardship? "He who is faithful in little is faithful in much," Jesus said, calling the physical "little" and the spiritual "much." Who receives the reward? "He who overcomes," the one who is "faithful unto death," the one who acts like an adult.
3. Be strong. When life is tough, an adult doesn't stop working, sit there and whine, "I can't take any more." Most of us can do far more than we ever imagined. If you have lived more than three decades, you have already discovered that you can do what you have to do. Maybe you have never stopped and looked back on your life and the hard times you have come through and somehow managed to survive. See? You can be strong. So be an adult. Stop making excuses and, to borrow from an ad line, just get up and do it.
4. Do everything in love. It took me awhile to figure out what this had to do with all these other things. Then I remembered all those stories you hear about a frail little old lady lifting a car off of her husband when it fell off the jack. How did she do it? Adrenaline—that little boost that gives you almost superhuman power.
Love is spiritual adrenaline. When you love someone, you can do anything for them. You will ignore the aggravations your neighbors cause you, the irritations your family members sometimes bring; you will love them and overcome the temptation to strike back, speak back, or repay in kind. You will even show "love" to other drivers!
Here is where the "acting like an adult" part comes in, because you will choose to love those people despite them and their foibles. Love is a choice you will make every day, no matter how tired you are, how sick you are, how aggravated you are; no matter how unfair it is or how much that person deserves something besides your love; and even when you correct, you will do it because you love, not because you are angry or judgmental. "Everything" is to be done in love. That pretty much covers it all.
And there you have in two short verses how Paul says we are to be mature instead of childish. Which attitude will you choose?
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2Tim 4:7-8)