and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,1 Corinthians 1:28(NASB)
There are many occasions in Scripture when God uses simple things or unschooled people... whom the world considers foolish or juvenile, to undertake an assignment and forward His plans and purposes. It was in his letter to the Corinthians that Paul highlights this important issue when he wrote, "God has chosen the base things of the world and the things that are despised... God has chosen the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are."
Corinth was a place that was teeming with citizens of Rome, and other people from different places - both Gentiles and Jews. Many had relocated in Corinth, because of its importance as a commercial city and industrial centre. It had become a bustling town that was strategically situated, for both land and marine trade and travel.
Corinth had a range of intersecting trade routes from across the world and had become a busy centre, with a wide variety of merchants and travellers passing through. Like so many cities in Paul's day, it was replete with pagan practices, depravity, and corruption. There were many temples dedicated to pagan deities... and sexual idolatry and temple prostitution were two of the ungodly habits that flourished within the city gates.
It was in the midst of this den of iniquity that Paul made Corinth his missionary headquarters, and started to preach the good news of the gospel of Christ. He ministered in Corinth for about 18 months before moving to Ephesus.
While in Ephesus, Paul received some concerning news about the ungodly practices that the Corinthian Church had adopted. Paul was distressed by their fall into carnality, which caused him to write a chastening and corrective letter, exhorting the believers there to stop engaging in such ungodly practices, and giving instruction on right thinking and godly living.
Some in the congregation were engaged in some serious sexual misconduct, which was allowed to go unchallenged by the elders there. Others were involved in internal squabbles, which resulted in disorderly meetings and presented a poor testimony to unbelievers in the city.
Pagan courts were being used by Christians to sue a brother in Christ! Spiritual gifts were being abused and Paul's apostolic authority and doctrinal teaching had already been challenged and disputed by false teachers and legalists. As a result, Paul found it necessary to address these issues in a letter of correction, as well as defending his position as an apostle of God and a chosen instrument of Christ.
In an attempt to justify his apostolic authority and the gospel he taught, Paul pointed out that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and weak things to dumbfound the strong. He uses things like the Cross of Christ and Paul's own ministry in order to humiliate those that are wise in their own eyes. God chooses the weak things of the world to bring down the powerful, and Paul contrasted the clever oratory skills of his critics with the simplicity of the pure gospel he taught.
In His wisdom, the Lord uses things that are insignificant and people who are despised, to carry out his plans and purposes. God is able to take things that are viewed as nothing... in order to topple those that consider themselves superior! The Amplified Bible puts it this way, "And God deliberately selected and chose to use things in the world that are lowborn... things that are insignificant. God chooses to use those that are branded as useless and treated with contempt. He even uses things that are of absolutely no value whatsoever, so that He might depose the proud and bring their arguments to nothing."
We read in Psalm 2 that God sits in the heavens and laughs at the pompous piety and arrogant attitude of fallen man who rails against the Lord and His Anointed. What a comfort to know that God in His grace, takes the base things of the world and chooses those that are despised to bring to nothing those that view themselves as important!
Human wisdom and philosophical thinking may be coveted by the world and celebrated by fallen man, but the gospel exposes this attitude as foolish and futile. Human wisdom is the antithesis of godly wisdom and in this verse Paul's quoted from Isaiah, who said, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise." Paul was not suggesting that God will not save the wealthy man or intelligent person, for His goodness and grace embraces all, but how important that we get our priorities right and put JESUS as the central focus of our lives.
What a reminder that God is not influenced by the debating skills, intellectual capacities, business acumen, or the human wisdom of the wise. Such people are insignificant in His eyes. But the Lord values the man who is humble of heart and ever looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I am accepted in the Beloved and my salvation does not depend on my debating skills, intellectual capacities, business acumen, or human wisdom. I pray that I may develop an attitude of heart that trusts in You implicitly, and looks to Jesus, day by day. Thank You that You take the base things of the world and people that are insignificant in the eyes of the proud, and use them for Your greater glory. Use me I pray, and help me to walk humbly before You all the days of my life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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