Don't Deceive Yourself - 1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Don’t Deceive Yourself

My work has paid for several post-graduate degrees, but none of these were by my own doing. As I look back, I clearly see the doors that God opened in my life to get me where I am today. Nothing I do in my current job has been by my own wisdom. Yes, I strive to work hard and do my best, but isn’t that what God wants? Furthermore, I hope that I work hard as to glorify the Lord and not men or myself. 

I must constantly remind myself that nothing I have done has been by my own wisdom, but it is the persistent plan and will that God has for my life. 

What wisdom are you holding onto? Is it your own, or is it from God?

1 Corinthians 3:18-23
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So 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 the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

Paul is being sarcastic here. The Corinthians prided themselves on their wisdom and felt that they were quite wise during their time. However, we must not fool ourselves. Our wisdom does not come through education and study in universities; the wisdom that matters is from God. Worldly wisdom gets us nowhere in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, it helps us with our jobs and day-to-day lives, but the wisdom we gain from God provides us the compassion and love that we as Christians need to demonstrate toward one another. Paul says that we must become a fool to be wise. He spoke of this earlier, and he states that what is considered foolish by the world is wisdom from God. He means that the simplicity of faith and that Christ suffered a humiliating and shameful death on the cross and that we get our strength through a symbol of death is foolish to the world.

The church body only survives through faith, prayer, humility, and love. It is not like the worldly businesses we have today that require influence, power, and money. God has a plan for the church, and we are to build that church so that it is fruitful and fosters an environment ripe for growth. We are here to build a structure that is firmly rooted in the foundation that Christ already laid for us. Therefore, our thoughts are already known by God, and the more we align our hearts with Him and dive deeper into His Word, the more our thoughts will naturally gravitate toward His thoughts. 

Then, Paul tells us to no longer boast in men or our own glory. Yes, I would love to get that next promotion at work, knowing that it will improve my personal finances and help me later on as I retire. However, in my heart, I trust that God has a plan for me and will use me in the way He wants, no matter what my rank or position is. I trust that God’s plan is greater than any personal plan I have for my life. This does not mean that I don’t have a plan, but it means that I am submissive and open when God calls me in a different direction. Sometimes, it hurts when things don’t align with what I have for myself, but the more I pray about it, the more I discover the true benefits God has for my family and me. 

Paul says that all things are yours. We belong to the church, and we belong to Christ. We are all servants and are accountable to each other in Christ. We are given liberty in Christ, but what are we doing with that liberty? What are we doing with the rich blessings that Christ bestows upon us? We must continue to set our personal, worldly wisdom and pride aside and be humble and open to being taught. 

Paul reminds us that worldly wisdom is fleeting, and in order to build the church, we must be humble and open to the teaching through God’s Word. Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon that. This chapter teaches us that we must prepare our families, prepare the field, and then build the temple that God desires for us and for the church. We must be diligent in our watering of the believers and tending to the field so that we bear fruit and the church bears fruit. However, this is not through our own personal wisdom but through God’s. Therefore, think about the purpose behind what you do in your day-to-day life. Is it pleasing to God, or is it pleasing to you and done according to your own wisdom and efforts? 

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