Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.
–1 Corinthians 1:26
A little girl found a frog in her backyard. As she scooped the frog into her hand, to her astonishment, the frog spoke. It said, “If you kiss me, I will turn into a handsome prince.” The girl thought for a moment and said, “Sorry, but a talking frog is much more impressive!”
All of us tend to be impressed by different things. Some people are impressed by money. Other people are impressed by education or power. But God is impressed with none of those things. In fact, wealth, wisdom, and power can be barriers not only to our being saved by God but also to our being used by God. That is the truth we will see in our study of 1 Corinthians this week.
Remember, Corinth was an influential church, but it was in danger of having its witness for Christ extinguished because of division within the church. Last week, we saw that Paul said, “Quit dividing over philosophy because human philosophy is worthless.” Human philosophy rejects the cross of Jesus Christ, discounts the power of God, and cannot lead a person to the true God. This week we are going to look at one other problem with human philosophy: human philosophy elevates gifted people, but God’s wisdom elevates faithful people.
In 1 Corinthians 1:26, Paul reminded us that God saves the humble, not the proud: “Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” There were not many people in the early church who had great wealth or status or PhDs. In his commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, William Barclay quoted Celsus, a second-century Greek philosopher who opposed Christianity. Celsus wrote these sarcastic words about the Christian point of view: “Let no cultured person draw near, none wise, none sensible; for all that kind of thing we count evil; but if any man is ignorant, if any is wanting in sense and culture, if any is a fool let him come boldly.” Celsus also described Christians as “the most uneducated and vulgar persons” and “like a swarm of bats–or ants creeping out of their nests–or frogs holding a symposium round a swamp–or worms in conventicle in a corner of mud.”
That is how people thought of early Christians, and the same thing is true today. Why doesn’t Christianity tend to attract the rich and famous, or people in the world of academia? The answer is that wealth, education, and power are stumbling blocks to the gospel.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Person God Uses” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
William Barclay, “The Letters to the Corinthians,” The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 26.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.