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Studying the heart of God's wisdom

June 13, 2023

Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 30; 2:6-8

 1 Corinthians 1

18 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved. 19 It is written in scripture: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will reject the intelligence of the intelligent [Isaiah 29:14]. 20 Where are the wise? Where are the legal experts? Where are today’s debaters? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 In God’s wisdom, he determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. Instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. 22 Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25 This is because the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

30 It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus. He became wisdom from God for us. This means that he made us righteous and holy, and he delivered us.

1 Corinthians 2

6 What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. 7 We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. 8 It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory!

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul knew a crucified savior didn’t impress most Hebrews, Greeks, or Romans. His message was “foolish” to some and “scandal” to others. Yet he preached Christ crucified and risen with deep passion as a life-changing reality, the most vital wisdom to study and learn. God’s wisdom, he said, was greater than this world’s, and it, not sheer human logic, would change people’s lives. What his carefully trained mind used to scorn was now the heart of his faith and joy.

  • Paul recognized that his message was “foolishness” to the Greeks and “scandal” to the Jews (verse 23). The story seemed to invite people to mock. The message sounded “weak,” yet carried God’s power. Verse 18 stated Paul’s conclusion: God’s weakness is greater than human strength; God’s foolishness is greater than human wisdom. In what part(s) of your life today do you need to trust that God’s saving wisdom is wiser than any other kind of wisdom you might rely on?
  • You’re probably an educated, relatively prosperous, 21st-century citizen, likely a “high achiever.” Did these verses mean God loves less educated or prosperous people more than intellectuals or the socially prominent? What was the apostle’s point in saying, “You are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” In which of these life aspects has Jesus most fully become your wisdom? In which are you still growing?

Dear God, I am grateful that your strength and wisdom are greater than the world’s! I need that—I can’t save myself. Help me to trust and depend on you for what I need most. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Those who have read a few of my posts before have probably gathered that I am very much a feminist. It’s not just that I believe in equality—obviously, I do—but it’s also that I believe that inequality exists, and that there are long histories of justifications for this—including, sadly, some religious justifications. Some people will look at Scripture like Paul’s statement that wives should submit to their husbands as if that’s the end of the story, totally ignoring the fact that in that same sentence, Paul calls husbands to an even greater level of submission to their wives. In Jesus’ time, sexism was the norm, and in many ways, it still is today, meaning Bible verses about gender equality are just as relevant (and, sadly, just as ignored) today as they were 2000 years ago.

But this isn’t a post about feminism; this is a post about wisdom and intellectual thought. So why open with my stance on feminism? Because it’s a great analogy to my complicated feelings regarding today’s passage, and others like it. Passages like today’s passage in 1 Corinthians are important because they remind us that, while worldly wisdom and knowledge are important, God’s sometimes counterintuitive truths are more important. I know that. But I’ve also seen passages like this one misused in the same way that Paul’s call for wives to submit to their husbands has been misused.

The juxtaposition of God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom only means something in a society that values worldly wisdom and intellectual thought. Not to say that our society doesn’t, but I’ve definitely known some individuals who have used this as a cue to ignore worldly wisdom and intelligence altogether. That’s not the point of this passage. Paul himself was brilliant and renowned as a scholar, so he knew perhaps better than any of his peers the value of learning and reason.

There’s a song by Flight of the Conchords that talks about making bold proclamations with very shallow knowledge on the subject. It’s called “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Looking ’round the room, I can tell that you
Are the most beautiful girl in the … room
In the whole wide room
And when you’re on the street
Depending on the street
I bet you are definitely in the top three

Saying that a woman is beautiful is a great compliment but limiting that compliment to the room you’re in (or the street, depending on the street) is such a weak compliment that it turns into an insult. It’s not a compliment to say, “You’re my best, and my only option.” This song plays on this for laughs, but it illustrates an important point: compliments and statements of value depend greatly on what you’re comparing against.

Paul himself was a great scholar, and Roman culture, the overwhelming dominant force in culture when Paul wrote his letter to the church in Corinth, was one that highly valued philosophy and critical thought. In Paul’s mind, the value and power of God’s wisdom was even more apparent because of his scholarly background. God’s wisdom was not merely the most beautiful girl in the room. Paul had seen many other rooms, and streets, and other places, so he could say with some authority that God’s wisdom meant more than any other he had seen.

If you’re someone who loves philosophy and critical thinking, Paul’s words can be taken at face value. I know I, and most other people I know, are not as intelligent and well-educated as Paul, though. Most of us don’t read a book by Emmanuel Kant every night before bed, and that’s fine. God’s wisdom is important to everyone regardless of how much they know. I do see value, though, in learning as much as I can about many other topics as well, so that when I say God’s wisdom is the greatest wisdom, my words and belief have authority and meaning beyond ignorance and naivety.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.