Become a fool.
This command found in 1 Corinthians 3:18 seems absolutely ludicrous. Most of us spend our entire lives seeking to grow in wisdom but here in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us to become fools.
If you study wisdom throughout Scripture you will discover that there are two types of wisdom. There is the wisdom of this world and there is the wisdom of God. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul tells us that we must become fools in the eyes of the world that we might become wise in the eyes of God.
1 Corinthians 3:18-20 says, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. Likewise, the wisdom of God is foolishness to this world. As hard as we may try we will never be seen as wise by both our God and this world. We must choose between the two.
What is the wisdom of God?
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul contrasts the wisdom of this world with the wisdom of God. He begins by telling us about ministry that will last for eternity and ministry that will fade away.
1 Corinthians 3:10-13 says, “ According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”
Paul then goes on to tell us that we are temples of God and that if anyone defiles the temple of God God will destroy him because the temple of God is holy. The idea behind the word defile seems to be to distract or draw away from devotion to Jesus. If anyone distracts or draws another believer away from devotion to Christ he has defiled the temple of God.
Paul seems to be saying that if your ministry points others to Jesus and causes them to focus on Him you are building with gold, silver and precious stones whereas if your ministry distracts them from Jesus you are building with wood hay and straw.
Finally, we come to our passage on wisdom. Paul tells us that if anyone seems to be wise in this age he should become a fool so that he can gain true wisdom. What is this true wisdom? It is Jesus.
Paul tells us that our lives and ministries ought to point others to Jesus. If we think that we have anything else to offer we are foolish. If we are trying to give people Jesus and something else we are foolish.
Jesus is the solution to human hurt. He is the answer to the brokenness and the pain in our world. A ministry that will truly make an eternal impact is a ministry that points people to Jesus.
The wisdom of God is Jesus. Anything that goes beyond Him or away from Him or distracts from Him is foolish in the eyes of God. Jesus—this is the wisdom of God. May we never get past Him. May our lives and ministries be focused on Him and consumed with Him.