By Brian Mitchell
Students in a psychology class at San Diego State College were asked to name their most valuable personal asset. 2 wrote down intelligence, both of them misspelled it. Winston Lord, former assistant Secretary of State and ambassador to China, told of a time when he and his wife were driving outside of Beijing. They came across a Buddhist temple and the head monk came out to greet him. His eyes lit up when he learned that Lord was an ambassador and that his wife Betty was a famous author. The monk then asked Lord if he would do this temple a great honor which would benefit future visitors, to guide and instruct them.
He then asked him to write something in English. Obviously, the ambassador and his wife were quite honored and the monk then handed them two wooden plaques and said, “Would you write in English on the plaque the word Ladies and on this plaque the word Gentlemen?” Many people like them think of themselves as being quite intelligent (and they are usually quite annoying to the few of us who are).
Many perceive themselves as quite intelligent and are often quite embarrassed to find out they either did not know as much as they thought they knew or that their perceived intelligence was not as important to others as it was to them. One of the greatest advantages of my studies is the fact that the more I learn the more I realize I have to learn.
The church at Corinth was undergoing a similar realization and they were having a difficult time coming to grips with this new reality. They, like many living in metropolitan areas of the 1st Century, prided themselves on their knowledge and felt as though they had everything figured out. Yet, here comes God in their lives and He is doing things in ways they just cannot comprehend. To them the ways of God are foolish because He was acting in ways that were contrary to what they believed to be the best of human wisdom.
Paul in this text demonstrates to them and us that there is nothing wrong with the wisdom of God, for it is infinite in nature. The problem is with man’s wisdom. Man and God think differently—Is.55:8-9. Thus, if man and God see things differently, the problem does not lie in the wisdom of doing things God’s way, it lies in our ability to understand the wisdom of doing things God’s way.
Paul concludes this passage by putting man in his proper place. How? By stating that even the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man and that the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of man. It does not matter how wise we become—God is wiser. It does not matter what man achieves in his own power—God is more powerful.
There is a day coming when those who have refused the wisdom of God will say, I should have chosen His way and not mine. I should have trusted His wisdom and not mine. The only question will be; what will you say?
- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at https://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.netg