Wisdom Follows Humility


1 Corinthians 4:6-21                   


We all make a life choice concerning whose perspective is upside down, God’s or that of the world. The Corinthians had not chosen well as evidenced by their divisiveness. Paul has answered by contrasting the wisdom of God with that of world. Now he unmasks the motivation behind their choices.


The wisdom we follow is a pride issue

All human history and the gospel are connected to this reality (compare Gen 3:1-6 and Mt 4:3-10)

1. Paul uses confrontation, to help the Corinthians see their true selves

He asks three who – what – why questions (v7)

There is no mystery concerning the answers; all we have is from God, which takes away our reasons for boasting

But unless we know God clearly, we will not see this basic reality

Even believers drift if God’s Word does not anchor our minds

We desperately need the conviction not to go “beyond” God’s Word (v6)

Paul had “applied all these things” i.e. the truths of chapters 1-4

Paul has doggedly pressed this conviction on us – how has it impacted you?

Beware, it is not just the world that tries to draw us “beyond what is written”

There are some in the church who diminish the infallibility and authority of God’s word

Discernment matters concerning what we read and who we hear

2. Paul uses sarcasm to help the Corinthians see the foolishness of their pride

They had an exaggerated view their maturity, so in v8 Paul uses exaggeration

Then he makes comparisons in v10 using words they probably used about themselves

When we compare ourselves to others, we usually use a one-sided and distorted storyline

3. Paul uses his own example of humbly resting in Christ

Paul is no longer using hyperbole, this is how he lived!

He is uplifting the seemingly ‘upside down’ biblical perspective of humility

The world resents life that looks like (v11)

The rich and wise would have mocked Paul for demeaning himself in physical labor (v12)

People ridicule those who have a v13 lifestyle

Humility as lifestyle is upside down to a world that is self-centered

Then why would any of us want to embrace it and be content!?

It’s the way of wisdom, for it is the way of Christ (Philippians 3:8)

What is truly upside down, is the so-called wisdom of the world

If you know Christ and have his gospel, the choice of where wisdom is found should not be difficult

To help us joyfully agree with the worthiness of Christ, we need to be immersed in praise of him


Paul presents their response options

Paul has firmly “admonished” them: how will they receive it? (vs 14-17)

(1)  They can justify themselves and reject his assessment

(2)  They can be self-focused in “shame” and pull away

(3)  Or they can humble themselves and follow the example of godly wisdom

Paul offers himself as an example, because he has “applied these things”

We are all called to be disciple-makers; and part of that is being an example

You don’t need to be a perfect example, you can be a committed example

We can show that we are committed to “applying” the wisdom of God instead of our own

We can show that we take joy in the wisdom of God instead of our own

Paul has softened his tone from confrontational to fatherly

But these believers must still decide how they will respond (vs 18-21)

The wisdom of the world has influence, but it’s devoid of power

The wisdom of God consists of power, so serving his “kingdom” has power

     The wisdom of the gospel is ‘the power of God for salvation’

     The wisdom of God is power to make life whole

     The wisdom of God is power to sustain and lift you in every storm

If you are in Christ and you embrace his word, your life will have power



‘Know Where to Get Wisdom’                    

 1 Corinthians 2:6-16


We all want to be wise in life. But the world’s views of wisdom and foolishness are upside down. This makes it hard to protect against being influenced by false wisdom. Paul strengthens our convictions, by helping us understand how wisdom is obtained.


1. True wisdom will not come through those the world thinks are wise (v6)

Paul starts by repeating his point of where wisdom is not found

This present age (this world order), exalts us instead of God, that is not wisdom

That means the rulers of this age (people of influence), don’t have wisdom

Paul refers to all who embrace the gospel of Christ as “mature”

Those who know wisdom is in Christ, have a certain measure of maturity

Their thinking is on a secure foundation, and it is leading you in a wise direction

Don’t turn back to the wisdom of those who are “doomed to pass away”  


2. True wisdom must be revealed by God (v7a)

Paul calls the gospel “secret and hidden wisdom”

God is not hiding wisdom from us, he is declaring where wisdom is found

The gospel had to be revealed; and a crucified Messiah was totally unexpected

We will not find wisdom by our effort, or what makes sense to us  

Christ is the treasury of wisdom and the full answer to all we need (Colossians 2:3)

Christ is the door to all wisdom, every other door leads to a dead end


3. The wisdom of God is eternal and unchanging (v7b)

The world denies that truth can be definitive. So it changes with each new “ruler”

But God is a perfect and eternal being – all knowledge is his possession

God is the Creator – all that exists flows out of his wisdom

God is the Judge – we are all accountable to his standards

True wisdom doesn’t change, it embraces the ways of God

New wisdom about life and godliness will always be false wisdom


4. Our response to Christ reveals whether we have wisdom (v8)

The proof that this world is blind to wisdom, is their rejection of Christ

God displays the fullness of his power and wisdom in Christ 

Jesus was perfect man and “glory” on display, but the world didn’t recognize it

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s wondrous plan, but the world doesn’t care

What wisdom can the world give us, when Jesus is nowhere in it?

In v9, Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4

He points out that the gospel of Christ contains glories beyond imagination

We cannot grasp all the gospel brings, but we have tasted it!

How can we consider neglecting the glories of gospel wisdom, to pick up what the world exalts?


5. The wisdom of God can only come from the Holy Spirit (vs 10-11)

The wisdom that created life and rules over eternity, flows from the mind of God

People emptily proclaim how life, eternity and God should operate; but unless God shares that wisdom with us, how can we possibly know it?

The Holy Spirit does know “the depths” of God

And he dwells in every believer to empower and ‘teach’ us (v12)

He makes the wisdom of God available and understandable to all believers

(1) This doesn’t mean every line in the Bible is instantly clear, it means it is all intelligible

(2) The Spirit who teaches us also inspired the Bible; so what he teaches us will always be in-sync with the Bible

If anyone’s thinking is not Holy Spirit inspired, then it’s not true wisdom


6. The wisdom of God can only be received by a “spiritual” person (v13)

v14 contrasts the spiritual person to the “natural person” (someone not born of the Spirit)

The natural person can study the Bible and recognize what it claims, but the realities of Christ don’t impact them

As spiritual people, we judge, but we are not judged (vs15-16)

This verse has been widely misused. It cannot contradict the rest of the Bible and mean we can avoid accountability

The context is clear, Paul is still rebuking the false wisdom of the world

God’s truth enables us to judge the world’s truth; but they don’t judge our truth, because it is God’s truth

Believer, you have “the mind of Christ”, which is the light of gospel wisdom. Use it!

Being wise in any situation is always tied to the cross and what it speaks to us



Rest in the Wisdom and Power of Christ        

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

In chapter 1, Paul tells the Corinthians they need to change their categories for “wisdom” and “foolishness”

Human wisdom is foolish, because it doesn’t bring anyone to God (1:21)

The gospel of Christ crucified seems foolish, because Jesus died! Yet, it is wonderful wisdom, because it solves our sin problem!

Until we see wisdom and foolishness correctly, our priorities of life will be mixed up. This point is so crucial, Paul doesn’t move on, he keeps digging into it in chapter 2


Paul uses the example of his ministry with them

He describes his ministry to them with two sets of contrasts

1. The 1st contrast, involves the wisdom he used (vs 1-2)

Paul did not present the gospel with “lofty speech” or with “wisdom”

This means he did not use the stylized oration of the time, and he did not try to make the gospel fit into their sensibilities

Instead, Paul made the “decision” to preach nothing but Christ crucified

This doesn’t mean he ignored all other doctrines (Acts 18:11), but that in all his teaching, the gospel remained central and foundational

2. Paul’s second contrast, presents the power he depended on (vs 3-4)

Acts 18 tells us his initial ministry to Corinth was strongly opposed. The opposition was so threatening, the Lord had to reassure Paul in a vision!

This helps us understand what Paul means by coming to them ‘in fear and trembling’

Paul recognized his ministry would only bear fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit

Only the Holy Spirit can give eyes to see and a heart to believe

“The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

“Unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

Paul was not hesitant to admit his weaknesses, because they were not an obstacle

In fact, the opposite is a danger to us, when we rely on ourselves

3. Paul sums up the reason for his approach (v5)

He wanted their faith to rest on God alone, because he alone can sustain them

As Christians, we talk about relying on God’s strength and wisdom; but do we practice it?


What does it mean to rest on the “wisdom” and “power” of God?

1. Trust the Bible – where all wisdom for life and godliness has been placed (v5)

Do you have complete confidence in God’s Word?

Do you see it as being fully sufficient for your life and wonderfully good?

You must decide where The Truth is found

The Bible doesn’t allow for half-hearted approval or partial trust, God expects complete submission and obedience

Guard against the seepage of the world’s wisdom

The world’s wisdom is not only prevalent, it sounds good, because it elevates us

Since Eden, human wisdom has been pride based; it tells God to move aside

Be prepared to rise above the world’s mockery: 

Keep in mind who has last word

God’s word will never be popular with the world’s culture; because the Bible condemns it. But the gospel will always be powerful to save any individual who bows to it

Parents, are you protective of God’s Word in your home?

Make sure you allow nothing to keep your family from reading the Bible together

2. Depend on the Holy Spirit – who empowers us

Paul could not change his situation, and he felt overwhelmed (vs 3-4)

Yet, he did not stop persisting in his calling, because the Holy Spirit was the one enabling him

Your life is meant to serve God; so, we can serve him regardless of circumstances

Evidences, that we are not depending on the Holy Spirit

(1)  When we think if a famous person was saved, they would accomplish a lot for God. No, believer, if God has all your heart, He will accomplish a lot through you!

(2)  When we habitually walk through our day without spending time with God – it shows we think we can handle it

(3)  When we think we cannot change an attitude or a behavior – this denies the power of the Spirit 

(4)  When our first response to problems is to try fix the situation, or the person ourselves


3. Keep the implications of the cross at the center of how we live (v2)

The cross cuts against the values of human culture, because it cuts against the values of self

Life will drift, if the values of the Cross are not kept freshly in mind

The values of the Cross declare:

(1)  Sin is a serious issue! God hates sin, so we must not allow any resting place for it

(2)  Humility is the only path to a Christian lifestyle. Pride has no business guiding us

(3)  God’s commitment to us should overcome all doubt, fear, hurt or loss


On Saturdays in January, the blog will feature some light-hearted words of wisdom

I find television very educational. Every time someone turns it on, I go in the other room and read a book.
 Groucho Marx

A husband is someone who takes out the trash and gives the impression he just cleaned the whole house.

Do not listen to those who complain, for their disease is contagious.  Og Mandino

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.  Mark Twain

He who dies with the most toys is still dead

The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.
 Arthur C. Clarke

Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day

A closed mouth gathers no feet.  Sam Horn


On Saturdays in January, the blog will feature some light-hearted words of wisdom

The real trouble with reality is that there’s no background music.

War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who’s left.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.  William Arthur Ward

When I hear somebody sigh “Life is hard” I’m always tempted to ask “Compared to what?”

The way some people find fault, you’d think there was some kind of reward.

You can’t be late until you show up.

Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn’t have said.

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in one ahead.  Bill Mcglashen

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

Make allowances for your friends’ imperfections as readily as you do for your own.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

People may like a person’s thought for its touching words, but they like him truly for his own deeds touching their heart.   Anuj Somany

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.   Lawrence J. Peter


On Saturdays in January, the blog will feature some light-hearted words of wisdom

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.  Theodore Roosevelt

A woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s: She changes it more often.  Oliver Herford

Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.  Bill Vaughan

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. Douglas Adams

It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper. Jerry Seinfeld

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.  Thomas Sowell

You never truly understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.  Albert Einstein

I was the kid next door’s imaginary friend.  Emo Philips

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.  Henry A. Kissinger

Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.


On Saturdays in January, the blog will feature some light-hearted words of wisdom.

He who laughs last didn’t catch on very fast, did he?

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. Elbert Hubbard

I have not failed in life. I’ve just found A thousand ways that don’t work! 

If at first you DO succeed don’t look too astonished.

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. Isaac Asimov

Keep your eye on the ball, is very dangerous advice.

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. Margaret Mead

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man. Lana Turner

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving isn’t for you.

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. Steve Martin

How many observe Christ’s birthday, how few his precepts.  Ben Franklin


“The Best Wisdom ”

James 3:13-18

How would you define being wise?  Who do you think is wise – and why?

James tells us both where wisdom comes from, and how it is shown:

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom”  (3:13)

Wisdom comes from God (vs 15 & 17)

There is no other logical or biblical conclusion

Logically, wisdom cannot exist outside of God who is the source of all existence

Biblically, Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of Lord is the beginning of wisdom” 

The Bible gives us no other place to look for wisdom

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is using life well

The whole world agrees with this statement, but we differ greatly in its application

We can only use life well if have an eternal perspective of life, because life is eternal

We can only use life well if we live in submission to God, because He alone rules over eternity

The only use of life that is not wasted, is when we serve the kingdom that will remain standing

To sum it up: 

Wisdom is when we live according to the realities of God

Wisdom is shown by godly character

It is instructive what James doesn’t mention as evidence of wisdom

1.  He doesn’t mention knowing truth (although wisdom must know it)

Wisdom is when the truth we know, works in our actions (James has made this point repeatedly)

This means that truth must be transforming our heart Mark 7:21-23

2.  He doesn’t mention accomplishment (although wisdom will produce fruit)

Getting ahead in this world shows we have a certain amount of insight

But the fruit of wisdom is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and is all about character

Wisdom is not chiefly what we build, but what God builds in us

In vs 14-16, James tells us the conduct that is devoid of true wisdom

Twice he mentions “jealousy and selfish ambition”

Jealousy puts aside grace, love and God’s kingdom to exalt its own desires

Selfish ambition is a similar self-centeredness; the word also implies strife and factions

These attitudes are without wisdom (v15)

Instead they are “earthly, unspiritual and demonic”  

This is because these attitudes focus on ourselves and earthbound desires; God is neglected and Satan’s counsel is followed

When our eyes are on this false wisdom, life leaves a trail of disorder and sin v16

In vs 17-18, James tells us the conduct that expresses true wisdom

He says “first it is pure”

It is ‘pure’ because wisdom will lead to an unmixed devotion for God’s ways

This is ‘first’ because we cannot serve God without it

James follows with 7 qualities that in the Greek are grammatically framed into 3 groupings

1.  Wisdom is “peaceable, gentle and reasonable” – these are the opposite qualities from (vs 15-16)

The picture is of a church that is marked by peace and cooperation

2.  Wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruits” – which means wise conduct overflows love for others

3.  Wisdom is “impartial and sincere” – we are not divisive and we look out for one another

James begins this section by identifying how we identify wisdom (v13)

True wisdom is shown by how we live, as true faith is shown by works

He ends the section by telling us what it will produce (v18)

As we apply godly wisdom, peace will increases in us and the whole church

In fact, James refers to the wise as those who “make peace”

This is not simply the peace of pacifism; it is the deeper peace of God’s agenda for restoring people to Himself and each other

But what about practical wisdom?

‘I know we need God’s wisdom to get to heaven, but I need wisdom for life now’

There is nothing more practical, than when our life pursues God

1.  This is because all of life eventually ends at the doorstep of God’s kingdom

Is your life spent gathering as much luggage as you can?  What will you keep when you enter eternity?

2.  This is because all good things come from God (1:16-17)

All of us want to gather as much good in our life as possible; so James reminds us where good comes from

“Every good gift” is from God – He not only created all good things, God invented ‘feeling good’

“Every perfect gift” is from God – because he is making the good things complete and ‘perfect’

Do you want reality?  

You are entirely dependent upon God!

We either build our life on that rock, or life is broken on it

If you are reading this, you are probably trying to build on it

But are your efforts half-hearted?  Do you settle for part of godly wisdom?

Why pursue some good when God is all and perfectly good?!


A couple times a week I manage to find time to work out of my Starbucks office. I enjoy the change of scenery and for some reason I find it relaxing to work while sitting on one of their couches as I sip my Grande Cappuccino.

Somehow I have been oblivious to the words of wisdom that apparently are printed on the cups. Starbucks has been printing quotes by Oprah Winfrey on the cardboard sleeves that slip onto the hot drink cups. While what Oprah says sounds good and is popular with many people, her words to live by do not represent a perspective that the biblically-minded should espouse.

Drew Dyck, who is managing editor of Leadership Journal tried editing Oprah’s “gospel of self-actualization” with a more God-centered approach. The fruit of his labors can be viewed here.

His purpose is not to put down Oprah, rather it is to help us think more clearly about what we consider to be words to live by.


Romans 16:27 describes God as “the only wise God”

. . . God is not simply wiser,

. . . or the wisest,

. . . He alone is wise!

  If God is not “alone” wise, we can justify looking elsewhere for the rest of wisdom

All wisdom begins with God, because God began everything (Proverbs 3:19). It is not possible to understand how life works apart from the wisdom of God (Proverbs 9:10). To reject God as the source of wisdom is to reject wisdom itself.

Although men knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools  Romans 1:21-22

But what about people who disregard God and yet appear to have wisdom and prosper by it?  We need to ask what standard we are using to measure their wisdom and prosperity. Whatever shrewdness they have will eventually fail. When they leave this world their wisdom will prove meaningless. Even now, whatever insights they have, are mixed with deception

We will never appreciate God’s wisdom unless we have an eternal perspective

This is one reason why the world doesn’t see wisdom in God’s ways. The great measure of wisdom today is what it produces in eternity, because eternity is obviously most of our life. Our lifetime on earth last less than a single beat of a hummingbird’s wing compared to our life to come

People around us may have more knowledge than you, but the truth of the gospel makes us wiser than the world’s most brilliant stars. The proof is that the world’s wisdom never brings people closer to God. Yet even with a limited mind, we can have life forever with Jesus!

Nothing will protect us more than the truth found in God’s word. If we live by God’s wisdom, we don’t have to figure everything out. We may not know how God’s wisdom will always work, but we are confident God does. What rest and peace we have, when our life is focused on trust and obey

Applying God’s wisdom will benefit every aspect of life, because God’s wisdom designed how every aspect of life works

Applying God’s wisdom will protect us from the brokenness of foolish decisions. Life has its share of burdens, why add to them by ignoring God’s word

Applying God’s wisdom will bring fulfillment in every area we use it, because we are bringing perfect and eternal truth into our life

Applying God’s wisdom will give us peace of mind even when we are surrounded uncertainties, because God is never uncertain

We all follow someone’s wisdom – whose wisdom will it be?