S16P3 – Personal lessons from Paul: proper knowledge and wisdom

1 Cor. 1:17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

There are many who worship the great minds of the current time and of times past, thought leaders, inventors and philosophers. We are taught that knowledge is power, and that is not necessarily incorrect. However, there can come a point at which a man’s knowing many things convinces him that he knows everything. This is a dangerous place, the crossroads at which the knowledge God has allowed one to build becomes the very thing that stands between the man and the Maker. The source of your knowledge, as well as the source which informs your wisdom, matter tremendously. This is how one man’s mind can lead him down a logical path away from God while another’s might logically lead to God.

We live in a world of counterfeits. From love to joy to peace to kindness, the world presents tantalizing imitations of every good thing that God has in store for us. This is also true for knowledge and wisdom. There are worldly knowledge and wisdom that will by their very nature lead one from God. While godly wisdom and knowledge celebrate and elevate God, their worldly counterparts celebrate and elevate the person. The world reasons that morals are relative, truth is relative, and faith is relative. The world discounts faith, setting it at odds with evidence, while God tells us that faith is indeed the evidence of things not seen [Heb. 11:1]. The salvation we gain through Jesus Christ is foolishness to the world because that was no worldly act. The world’s version of love would never conceive of such grace. And one who loves this world system of things would not desire liberation from what appears to be pleasing and sufficient, thus not understanding the need for a savior in the first place.

I, like Paul, was once a man who thought Christ crucified was foolishness. In my worldly mind, I could not imagine why one would want to deny himself anything, sacrifice anything, offer up his life, and all for a man who seemed to be a mere myth. Then, on a summer day in 2005, the foolishness of God crushed my wisdom, leaving me a man forever changed. A day earlier, the thought of my salvation would have elicited a snicker or a chuckle. But on that beautiful Sunday, it caused my heart to burst from my chest and my eyes to see into the deepest parts of everything they beheld. And since that day, the things I could not understand about God have slowly become clear. Likewise, the wisdom and knowledge I thought I had gained from the world have been challenged and placed in submission to the truth. Father, we ask you today to cleanse our minds of every bit of the world’s knowledge and wisdom that remains, and fill us with more and more of You and your thoughts and your ways, to the glory of your holy name.