Ezra 1:1-2:35; 1Corinthians 1:18-25; Psalms 27:11-14; Proverbs 11:1-3
NT: “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 CSB)
As Paul was dealing with the development of factions in the Corinthian church – factions built around “celebrity” leaders and competing philosophies – he landed on one central topic: the cross. By considering the cross, we realize that building a faith around a personality or philosophy is futile. But that is exactly what the Jews and the Greeks had done for ages… and that was what the Corinthian church was doing with its factions. The Jews focused their faith and hope on a personality. Over the millennia, they had developed their idea of who Messiah was to be – some sort of God-empowered super hero that was all-powerful who would bring about God’s judgement on the nations through performing miraculous signs and wonders. They believed that it was this hoped-for personality that would save them. Yet in all their study of the scriptures and hope in a coming Messiah, they completely missed God. The Greeks placed their faith in their mental capacity and ability to reason and philosophize. If they could think it, they could do it – yet in all their vast reasoning, theorizing and debating, they completely missed God. God did not allow the world to come to Him in the ways that made sense to them… He did not conform to the world’s ideas of what God should or shouldn’t do. Instead, God confounded the wisdom of the world and accomplished the impossible through the cross.
To the Jew, the cross was weakness and failure. Dying on a cross was a sure sign of a cursed life. Jesus didn’t call down fire from heaven like Elijah and smite the Roman oppressors. He died a horrible and shameful death on a cross as the Romans laughed and scoffed at Him. Jesus couldn’t possibly be the personality that the Jews sought to free them. Yet it was through Jesus’ weakness on the cross that the power of God fully conquered the powers of sin and death. To the Greeks, the cross didn’t make any sense… they couldn’t wrap their minds around the reasoning of it. Because they couldn’t begin to understand the reasoning behind the cross, they considered it foolishness. Yet it was through the foolishness of the cross that God’s unfathomable wisdom was proven, by accomplishing both complete justice and complete mercy through one completely unexpected act.
It is as we place our faith in something “foolish” that we are able to discover and know God. It is as we forsake faith in conventional human-level personality and philosophy, and embrace the wisdom of God that we are saved. And it is as we accept God’s wisdom, that we can lay aside the differences of opinions that divide us and unite together under the cross.
Psalms: “I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.” (Psalms 27:13-14 CSB)
At the beginning of this passage of scripture is a word that means unless. Because of that, other translations have David writing, “I would have lost heart unless I was convinced…” When we look at situations and circumstances through our natural abilities, we can become discouraged because, in our minds, we see no way out. Our predicament seems without solution. Yet David did not allow himself to be discouraged by the way things appeared or by what his understanding was telling him. He was convinced that God would deliver him from his current circumstances, and he wouldn’t have to wait for the “sweet by and by” to experience it. So instead of forging ahead with his solution, he faithfully and expectantly waited for God’s solution. As we go through challenges, it can be easy for us to feel like God has abandoned us and grow discouraged by what we see naturally – and then forge ahead with our own efforts to solve our problem. If we are the Lord’s through faith in Christ, then He is for us – and we can trust in His wisdom that far transcends our understanding. Wait with faith and expectation on the Lord. Take courage in His wisdom, and you will see His goodness in the land of the living.
Proverbs: “When arrogance comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 CSB)
The word translated here as “arrogance” is the Hebrew word zadown – which means pride, insolence, presumptuousness and arrogance. Basically it means to show disregard or disrespect for someone based on one’s over-exaggerated sense of self or ability. Someone who is arrogant is one who disrespects the wisdom of others by considering themselves to be the one with all the wisdom. Whenever we trust in our own wisdom and understanding above God’s, we slip into arrogance – and our disgrace is sure to follow. However, if we humble ourselves and openly receive the wisdom of God, we will then become truly wise.
Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to trust in what I can see, experience first-hand, and understand through my human logic and reasoning. However, You do not limit Yourself to what I can see and understand – and Your wisdom transcends any and all that I could hope to wrap my mind around. You choose to show Your greatness and glory through people and processes that completely confound our understanding. You don’t call me to trust in what I can see and understand. You call me to trust in Your word, Your will, Your ways and Your wisdom. Grace me to not impatiently solve things through my limited understanding, but to faithfully and expectantly wait on You for Your wisdom and direction. I trust that as I do that, I will experience Your goodness, and the world will experience Your glory.