18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;  20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:18-23)

One of the traits of the Corinthians was that they considered themselves to be wise.  Of course, what they possessed was worldly wisdom, as opposed to divine wisdom.  Paul knows well the error of operating in worldly wisdom and the conflict that it creates in ones life.  Paul discusses how he operated in human wisdom in his letter to the Galatians… “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.  And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:13-14)  In his own zealousness, Paul was enacting any means necessary to destroy Christians and the church.

Attempting to act in our own wisdom will never produce eternal fruit.  Only through a life built upon Jesus as a foundation can we ever hope to have an eternal impact that brings glory to God; hence the analogy of a foundation and building in the previous verses of this letter to the Corinthians.  Humanism (man-centered philosophy) can only hope to achieve temporal results at best as man’s understanding is limited.  God’s understanding is unlimited in both vastness and time.  God’s wisdom is so far greater than man’s understanding that there is really no way to compare the two in quantitative terms.

Paul declares that anyone who considers himself to be wise in this age (referring to human wisdom) must become a fool in order to become wise.  What Paul is telling us here is that we must surrender our worldly understanding in order to accept God’s wisdom in our lives.  The reality is that our worldly wisdom often conflicts with God’s wisdom.  As a result, we must be willing to let go of our own worldly, limited, inferior understanding in order to to accept God’s eternal, unlimited, superior understanding.  In Paul’s words… one must become a fool (surrendering worldly wisdom) in order to become wise (receive God’s eternal wisdom).

In verses 21-23, Paul circles back to the issue that he discussed at the beginning of the chapter where the Corinthians are dividing themselves into groups based on who had shared the gospel with them as he declares that no one should boast in men.  One who has not accepted Jesus as their savior is limited to a worldly understanding and has not chance of experiencing the blessing of God, including eternal wisdom and especially heaven.  However, the Christian who has accepted the offer of salvation through Jesus has had all things opened to them, not only the eternal presence of God (residence in heaven) but also Godly wisdom for those that are willing to build their life around a relationship with Jesus.

As a Christian, it’s not important who God used as a messenger to deliver the gospel.  What is important is the relationship with Jesus that comes as a result of accepting the message of the gospel.  Christ purchased your salvation through his sacrifice on the cross.  Now, adopting the name of Christian, your life belongs to Christ and you have a relationship with God the Father.  This relationship opens up understanding that surpasses the worldly realm and gives us access to lessons from the Creator Himself.  Through time spent with Jesus we are free to expand our understanding without limits.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.   “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  So are My ways higher than your ways,  And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

May your wisdom and understanding grow beyond the worldly realm through a relationship with Jesus.

God Bless,