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The Deception of Worldly Wisdom

1 Corinthians 3:18-20
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become 'fools' so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: 'He catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.' (NIVUK)

Self-deceit is easy; it comes packaged with our human nature. We cannot see ourselves as we are, nor can we see the world as God sees it. The pressure of worldly people encourages us to believe that we should conform to their value systems of money, power, relationships and success in education, the professions and business. It is the way to succeed and be satisfied, they say. However, all those things will pass away, but those who do God's will endure for ever (1 John 2:17).

Although God has given some ability to human beings to discover and create, instead of giving glory to God we naturally want to be proud of what we have achieved. That is foolish in God's eyes. By contrast, we are called to embrace what God is doing with thankfulness – even though the world thinks we are fools. Paradoxically it is the only way to become wise.

Paul reminded the church in Corinth of God's wisdom written in Job 5:13, "He catches the wise in their craftiness and the schemes of the wily are swept away", and in Psalm 94:11, "The Lord knows the thoughts of man; He knows that they are futile". So there is no eternal value in anything which does not give glory to God.

That does not mean we should not excel in education or business, form healthy friendships or raise a family well. But it does mean that when we have done the best we can do, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10) and that all the honour should go to the Lord. Our best efforts in ministry and our keenest attention to Biblical doctrine can still lead to foolish worldly pride and party spirit. So we need to repent and learn to treasure what God is doing and work with Him, giving Him glory, even though the world thinks we are fools not to assert ourselves and seek human praise.

Ever-wise God. Thank You for setting the eternal standard of what is right. I repent of failing Your standard by foolishly focussing my efforts on what the world thinks is valuable. Please help me to see that all I have is Yours and that all I have comes from You, so You have the right to set my pathway for Your glory's sake. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams