Summary: Every church needs to take this message to heart because one of the most tragic characteristics of modern society is pride and self-sufficiency.
I said last time that in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians concerning what to do about their divided church, Paul gives 11 answers to their problem. The first answer, Paul said, was the cross. If the church would refocus on their purpose based upon the cross, the church would begin to come back together. Tonight Paul continues in his letter by giving them a second answer to bringing a divided church back together. This answer is seeing God’s simple and humble people. The Corinthians needed to remember who they were. These people really weren’t that wise, or powerful or noble so they had no excuse for acting snobbish or for criticizing and ignoring others. They were only what God had made them.
Every church needs to take this message to heart because one of the most tragic characteristics of modern society is pride and self-sufficiency. The answer to division is reconciliation with God and with others and the only way to be reconciled is to live lives that are simple and humble. Let’s see what Paul says.
READ v. 26. God doesn’t call many outstanding people. The Corinthians were prideful in their wisdom and gifts and abilities. Earlier we talked about how God had gifted them with most spiritual gifts. Two of those gifts that were prominent were speech and knowledge but these made them very prideful and feeling superior.
Paul tells them, “Think of what you were when you were called.” Look at the type of people that God calls. He doesn’t call many who were wise by human standards. That’s because those who are wise by human standards will pursue and live for the human, fleshly wisdom of the world. Men don’t discover God by the wisdom of the world. So Paul tells them that not many of them were wise by human standards.
He goes on and says not many of them were influential. God doesn’t call someone because of how great they are, or powerful, or wealthy. Men don’t have influence with God because of who they are. Their earthly position and power have no bearing upon God’s acceptance of them.
Paul goes another step and tells them not many of them were of noble birth. Again, having knowledge, influence, and nobility doesn’t make a person acceptable to God. These are things which are esteemed by men. We are saved by the grace of God, not by self-effort. Everyone stands on an equal footing before God, no matter their status. So now Paul gets into the details of what he is saying.
READ v. 27-28. Paul gives the contrast of how man sees things and how God views things. God calls simple and humble people. In verses 26-28, the fact that men don’t save themselves, but God saves them is stressed four times in the words “called” and “chose”. God is the One who takes the initiative in saving men.
The fact that God chooses the simple and humble over the outstanding is not arbitrary. It’s not without reason. He explains His reasons in this passage. First, He chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. Notice he says “foolish things” and not “foolish people.” Many of the wise in the world look upon those who have little or nothing as things and not persons. They look on them as nothing more than tools for the rich and powerful to use as they wish.
God chooses the ignorant, the unlearned, and the disadvantaged over the wise of the world. Why? To shame the wise. How does that shame the wise? (The wise feel little need for God. They are self-sufficient.) This isn’t acceptable to God. This doesn’t mean God rejects you if you are smart. It’s the attitude of many of the wise is that they are not sincere enough to genuinely study the truth of God. It’s because of pride, arrogance, and close-mindedness that God chooses few of the wise in the world. These are the controlling people. They don’t want to listen to God or His vision or anything else. So God chooses those who humble themselves before Him—those who confess Him to be God and asking Him to save them. That is what is shaming to the wise.
God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. By weak is meant those without position, influence, or wealth. This may be the common laborer, the simple worker, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the child, the aged, the deformed or the helpless person. This again implies that those who feel they don’t need God will be rejected by Him. God will put to shame the attitude of arrogance.
God chooses the lowly things and the things which are despised. Again, the word “things” is used to denote people. The lowly are in contrast to those who are in the upper class. We all should have it made, right? But God chooses the lowly, once again, because of pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness of those who want some religion and some charitable causes, but they are unwilling to surrender their lives to a Lord who demands their total allegiance.