1 Corinthians 13:11 (ESV) … “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
1 Corinthians 13:9–10 served to explain how love is an enduring virtue (13:8) that will have priority in our lives even when the gifts of the Spirit come to an end. Paul says that the gifts give us divine revelations in part, but when we enter eternity there will be a fullness of revelation that we will live in. The gifts of the Spirit listed in Rom. 12:8–10 will no longer be useful when Jesus Christ returns and restores all creation to perfection. Paul then gives an illustration of this spiritual truth in 1 Corinthians 13:11 by giving us a natural example of a child growing into an adult; for when he is grown he no longer needs or clings to childhood concepts or ways of doing things.
We could paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:11 by saying, “When I was a child I spoke as a child (and I spoke as a child because) I thought as a child, (and I thought and reasoned as a child because) I saw things from a child’s limited and narrow perspective; that is, I saw things in part. But when I grew up, I saw things more fully. Therefore, I understood fully, and was able to lay aside my narrow, childish way of thinking.” Thus, Paul is using a natural event in our lives to explain a spiritual experience that we should I partake of in our spiritual grown to maturity.
Creflo Dollar says that he asked the Lord when did Paul grow up and become a man. He said that the Lord revealed to him that Paul became a man, or a mature Christian, when he began to walk in love, when he put aside childish, immature or fleshly manners.
Illustration - I remember coming home from college and feeling that I was a different person, more exposed to the world and not as childish. I found my old box of collectibles and toys that I had gathered from childhood and threw some of it away and gave away the rest. This stuff no longer meant anything to me because I no longer had the mind of a child; so, there came a time when I put them away.