04 God’s Wisdom and Man’s Foolishness 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Two men were working with a contracting firm
hired to dig a large hole. After several hours of
hard labor with picks and shovels, they sat
down under a tree to take a break. One of the
men says to the other: “Look at our foreman
down there. He really thinks he’s something.
I’m a lot smarter than he is. In fact, I’m
probably the most intelligent man on this
crew!” The second fellow asks, “What does
The first man stands up, place his hand flat on
the trunk of the tree and tell the other fellow,
“Take your fist and hit my hand.” The second
man jumps up, cocks his fist back, and swings
as hard as he can. The first man pulls his hand
away and the second man hits the tree. He
grabs his hand, jumps around shouting and
yelling in pain. When he stops, the first man
says, “Now, that’s intelligence.” The second
man stood there for awhile, working this
definition over in his mind.
He decides he’s going to show the first fellow
just how smart he is. The second fellow walks
down to where the foreman is and says, “Let
me show you how intelligent I am.” He goes to
put his hand flat on a tree trunk and realizes
there is no tree close by. He looked confused
for a moment and then figured out the solution.
He held his hand up flat in front of his face and
says to the foreman, “Take your fist and hit my
Sometimes we think we’re so smart and so
In fact, sometime we think we’re smarter than
We try to run ahead of Him.
We try to run around Him.
We try to run without Him.
All of those things are pure foolishness.
The Bible warns us:
Have you ever heard the phrase,
“Out of the mouth of babes?”
Sometimes, children have great insight into
things (much more so than some adults)
Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to
watch your food.”
Michael, 14, said, “When your dad is mad and
asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer
Michael, wise man that he was also said,
“Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”
Kyoyo, age 9, said, “Never hold a dust buster
and a cat at the same time.”
Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out
by asking for a horse.”
Lauren, age 9 said, “Felt markers are not good
to use as lipstick.”
Joel, 10 years old, said, “Don’t pick on your
sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.”
Eileen, age 8 said, “Never try to baptize a cat.”
God’s call went against human reason. It
seemed foolish when Naaman the leper was
told to go wash in the Jordan River and dip 7
times, but when he obeyed, his leprosy
It seemed foolish when David faced the giant
Goliath with only a sling and 5 smooth stones,
but when he went in God’s name and power,
the giant fell, and he cut his head off!
It seemed foolish when Joshua told the people
of Israel to march around Jericho 7 times on
the 7th day in obedience to God, but when
they did, the walls of Jericho came falling
It seemed foolish when Moses made a serpent
of brass and lifted it high above the snake-
bitten masses of Israel and told them to look
upon it, but when they obeyed, and looked in
faith, they did not die from the snakebite!
God’s choice confounded human resources.
The Greeks loved learning and wisdom and
would gather around to hear any new
philosophy and entertain its ideas.
But all ideas were evaluated on how well they
conformed to what they thought was
They believed in a God of reason, but it must
be a god who was reasonable on their terms.
That’s why the Roman historian Tacitus called
Christianity a “pernicious superstition”.
To them the cross is not merely an intellectual
defect, it was utter foolishness.
A person who claims the cross needs a room
with rubber walls and a sleeveless jacket.
Pretty much the sentiment today.
Freud suggests that religion and neurosis are
similar products of the human mind.
The Jews looked at the cross & stumbled over
it because they didn’t see the kind of Messiah
They looked for a physical Messianic kingdom.
They would have been happy if Jesus had
organized an army and fought the Romans.
But sadly, the cross didn’t symbolize power
and victory to the Jews.
It symbolized defeat.
God chooses those who are related to Him.
Those who are “called,” Those who are “in
God uses people who are right with Him.
Righteousness – “cleansed,”
Holiness – “set apart.”
Redemption – price has been paid.
Christ provides all three things for us.
– Describes those used by God with
human standards: not many were wise,
influential or important.
Think about the people God used in the Old
Moses: picked by God even though he was a
’poor speaker, slow and hesitant.’
David, the younger brother out tending the
sheep instead of fighting battles with his older
brothers, chosen to be king.
Jeremiah: chosen as a prophet even though
he didn’t ’know how to speak’ and was ’too
Gideon: called to lead his nation even though
he was from the ’weakest’ clan of the tribe of
Manasseh and the ’least important member’ of
his own family."
Consider the 12 men Jesus called to serve as
His closest associates.
Four were smelly fishermen.
One was an IRS agent.
The rest were people we know nothing about
except that they were common everyday
people. One was even a person that Jesus
knew would betray Him.
These were definitely not the men that worldly-
wise people would have chosen to accomplish
such an important job.
Consider the person chosen to be the “Apostle
to the Gentiles.”
Saul was the greatest enemy of the church yet
Christ called him to apostle-ship on the road to
Jesus gave two parables about wisdom and
foolishness. The first has to do with the
importance of hearing God’s word and then
The second has to do with being prepared for
Jesus wanted us to know that His return could
happen at any time.
Vigilance and preparedness are important.
I want to conclude with a story that’s quite old
but quite to the point:
There was a king who had all his world could
The thing he loved most, however, was to
Once while being entertained a jester came
along wishing to join in the festival of activities
and also wishing to perform for him.
His opportunity came and he put the best
comical show together he had ever done and
the king never laughed so hard.
Once the activity was all over the king wanted
to hire this jester to be his personal jester.
Once hired, the king handed him a small stick
and said, “You are the most foolish man alive.
When you find someone more foolish than
you, then you give them this stick,” and the
king laughed heartily.
After many years had passed by the king lay
sick on his death bed ready to go at any
He called for his jester, for he wanted to laugh
one more time before he died.
When the jester was through he asked to
speak to the king personally.
Once alone with the king the jester asked,
“King where are you going?”
The king responded, “On a far journey.”
The jester asked again, “And how do you plan
to get there?
The king responded, “I don’t know.”
Then the jester pulled the stick from his back
pocket and handed it to the king.
The king was stunned and asked why he had
given him the stick.
The jester replied, “King, today I have found a
more foolish man than I.
For you see, I only trifled with the things of life,
but you have trifled with things of eternity!”