In 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul gave the brethren at Corinth proper instruction concerning the exercising of spiritual gifts. One of the main problems among them had to do with how they had been conducting themselves with regard to the gift of tongues. Those who possessed this spiritual gift were being childish. They delighted in the gift of tongues to the extent that proper judgment was not being used concerning what effect tongue speaking was having upon others. Like children, they failed to realize all that was involved in the inconsiderate use and display which they had been making of this particular gift. Thus, Paul wrote, "Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature" (1 Cor. 14:20). To be like children in understanding is to act as though the mind is still in the undeveloped stage of childhood. So, instead of acting childish, they were told to be "mature." This suggests the idea of approving those things which are excellent, to be full-grown adults-"having reached the goal." It involves being fully able to wisely use one's powers of thought and good judgment. The Corinthians had not been doing this with regard to the use of spiritual gifts.

The circumstances today are different from those found in 1 Corinthians 14. We no longer have spiritual gifts, for they have served their purpose and have now "ceased" (1 Cor. 13:8-13). But, the principles set forth in 1 Corinthians 14:20 still apply and must be put into practice by those of us who are Christians. We must not be childish or immature in our actions, understanding, and judgment. However, in this short article, let us notice in particular the phrase-"in malice be babes." Malice is a devious, evil disposition with the intention of harming and injuring others. It is among the most destructive of all ugly, spiteful attitudes. Concerning this matter, it is essential for Christians to be "babes" or like children. In fact, Jesus lays down this condition in Matthew 18:3: "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." This suggests humility, gentleness and the innocence of children, which, particularly is contrary and opposed to malice, envy, jealousy, anger, strife, etc.

Those of us who seek happiness and success in serving God must eliminate malice from our hearts. There is no place in the life of a Christian for malice. Please notice the words of the inspired Apostle Peter: "Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby." The Apostle Paul said, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:31-32).

Malice is always harmful to those who harbor it in their hearts. Likewise, it is usually very damaging to the person who becomes the object of malicious words and deeds. Thus, malice will destroy our personal happiness and damn our souls to eternal punishment (Col. 3:5-8). "Brethren...in malice be babes."

by R.J. Evans

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