READ: 1 Corinthians 1 & 2
BACKGROUND: These two chapters begin Paul’s letters to the Corinthians with encouragement against division and a call for seeking wisdom that is not of this world.
1:4-9- Paul starts many of his letters with a word of thanksgiving for the people to whom he is writing.
10-17- Silly arguments can lead to divisions in the body of Christ.
1:18-2:5- The difference between wisdom in the kingdom of God and the wisdom of man is the message of the cross and the power of God.
2:6-8- This hidden wisdom is not the Gnosticism that focused on secrets and hidden keys to the kingdom of God.
2:13- Spiritual truths in spiritual words – an interesting allude to the Spirit giving us understanding of things that the world apart from Christ can’t comprehend.
2:14- Those without the Holy Spirit don’t accept the things of the Spirit because they don’t understand.
THINK: The last part of Chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2 deal with wisdom. Paul makes it clear that God is the source of all true wisdom and anything we think we know on our own simply falls short. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” –vs. 25 of Chapter 1. Basically he’s confirming that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is worthy to be worshiped.
I am intrigued by this idea of wisdom. If I were to be honest with myself, I would say I would like to be wise in the eyes of both God and the world. Of course, I want God to bestow wisdom upon me like that of Solomon, but in my day-to-day life? What holds sway? This is a conflict of interests to be sure and is a battle within me because I am a people-pleaser. I think I can go out on a limb and say that I’m probably not the only one with this issue… I think our culture is made up of people-pleasers. We have web pages devoted to ourselves where we put up the best pictures of ourselves and make statuses that we think people will think are funny or will grab someone’s, anyone’s attention. These things are not inherently evil or against God, but can quickly draw attention away from Christ and place it on ourselves. (Sorry for the facebook tangent…I’m guilty of it as well!)
But how can I gain this wisdom of God and how can God use me if I don’t feel like I am that wise? I’m glad you asked because that has been a question that I’ve been thinking about. We’ll tackle the second part of that question first. Paul directly addresses that question in chapter 1:26 and chapter 2:1. He has the Corinthians think back to when God first called them to faith. Not many of them were wise by human standards, not many had any sphere of influence, and not many were born into powerful families where they could share insight and people would just listen. “It is because of [God] that [they] are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God.” In the first few verses of chapter 2 he speaks of himself and the first time he brought the gospel to them. He says, “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom…I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words…so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” Have you ever felt like God might not use you because you don’t have the right words or you fumble over your sentences? Or that He would use someone else instead of you to do it who is “more qualified” or “better with words?” For those of us who know this thought process, this passage is so freeing! We don’t have to do it or speak it in our own power, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by the human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit…” And in verse 16, “…We have the mind of Christ.” I think that’s incredible.
Now for a little aside, concerning the first question that was raised, How can I gain this wisdom from God? In Proverbs 9:10 and Psalms 111:10 it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom…” If you ever wanted wisdom from God, this seems to be the place to start.
ASK: Ask God to reveal to you in what ways you trust the world’s definition of wisdom above the wisdom only found through Christ and ask him to change that in you. Could God be using you in ways that may seem foolish to the world, but could really touch someone’s life with the power of Christ working in and through you?