“If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-21)
For some reason, when I start a trip, which usually involves flying, I do foolish things and then wonder why. It may be due to staying up late the night before to pack and prepare for traveling. A few days ago I sat in the wrong seat on the plane even after identifying my assigned seat as I waited in line. I didn’t realize my mistake until the man whose seat I was in asked an agent about the “problem.” As I moved, I said, out loud, “I’m the problem.” All my devotions came thundering back to me, in this illustration of the severe limitations of human reasoning, or making the mistake of being overly-confident, because we assume we are fine. Oh, and let us not miss the application that I wasn’t fine, the gentleman wasn’t fine, and the people who were standing in line behind him also weren’t fine. The way we think and behave affects others, all the time.
Paul recommends becoming foolish in worldly “intelligence” to be spiritually wise. We are to put our confidence in God’s heavenly wisdom rather than depend upon simple self-confidence. John Gill offers ways to avoid futile foolishness and become wise based on our passage today from 1 Corinthians. We must know ourselves, and this knowledge should lead us to be convinced of our folly. To become wise, we must embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is foolishness to the world, submit to his ordinances, take up our cross to follow him, bearing the world’s reproach, and deny worldly wisdom. Pastor Gill goes on to say, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God-it is despised and neglected by him; he makes it foolish, destroys it, and brings it to nothing; he lays it aside as useless.” *
I have flown so many times to so many different airports that I was over-confident when doing something so mundane as sitting in my assigned seat. How often do we think ourselves smart, when this keeps us from recognizing our folly and senselessness? Solomon declared, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:10)
What “wisdom” of this world is the foolishness that is getting in your way of being truly wise? When are you over-confident, assuming that you are just fine? “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)
*Gill, John, Commentary on 1 Corinthians, online at: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/