Wisdom Power Weakness

by on November 15, 2014

1 Corinthians 2:1-5.  When I came to you, I did not come with clever words or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.   For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Recently Pastor Matt asked us to reflect on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and answer some questions.  Here are some of the amazing things people from around Immanuel said…

You can download the booklet of reflections here…  Four Questions

Or just read on!

 

Wisdom is unhelpful when

It speaks over the other,

Denigrates,

Offers solutions and

Knows it all.

 

Wisdom is helpful when

We remember God is our Father

Who loves us,

And His wisdom helps us

To try to love all people

 

Through God’s grace alone,

Which is all I need in my meekness

                                                  Because His strength comes into its own in my weakness.      (Barbara Chapman)

 

 

QUESTION 1:  WHEN IS WISDOM UNHELPFUL?

“And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  1 Cor 13:2

Wisdom is unhelpful when your mind isn’t open.

Wisdom without love is worse than unhelpful… it’s evil.

One can have great wisdom but unless one listens first it may not be helpful.

“Love requires no big words!”

Wisdom is unhelpful when something else is more important.  The message of Christ can make us appear foolish to the eyes of the world… Having the wisdom to know when to say nothing.

When an emotionally fuelled storm has brewed that makes no sense, wisdom will be drowned in the storm.  Words are meaningless in this situation – sharing, kindness and silent support are much more powerful. Words only count for 7% of communication effectiveness.  Wisdom when given at the most inappropriate moment can actually be detrimental.  The intention might be to ease pain and suffering, however suffering is part of the souls growth and its pain is to be experienced as Jesus experienced it.   (From a person has experienced greater loss than most).

One can be wise but still despair… Wisdom may not give hope or comfort.

These verses jumped out at me: “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (1 Cor 2:12-13) I think wisdom is important, but I think to begin with a New Christian’s belief needs to be based on faith. They can hear all the wisdom they want, but if they don’t believe then it’s not going to help them. But, if the Holy Spirit moves in their hearts, then things can happen.

Paul has a great deal to say about the relative merits of Godly wisdom and human “wisdom”.  I think no matter how catastrophic the situation, Godly wisdom is always appropriate – not  words spoken, just in actions – appropriate silence with presence!

A barrage of ‘words of wisdom’ can lead to attention being drawn away from the centrality of the Gospel.  The central Figure and Act of Redemption.  Words of wisdom can lead to pride, arrogance, confusion,  and  losing the Path (Ps.119:105).  Rather direct action from the Word.  I have come that you may have Life (John 10:10 etc).

To the non-Christian world, the wisdom of God is a mystery, neither discovered nor received. We are told that this was ordained by God before the ‘world’ was created. It was (and often still is) unknown to the leaders of the world, in the days of Jesus the Roman Emperors and Governors and perhaps less convincingly, the leaders of the Jews (explaining why Jesus prayed to God for their forgiveness whilst on the Cross). The great truths of the gospels therefore lie outside the sphere of human wisdom alone.

Wisdom is unhelpful when someone (without faith) is grieving.

To me there are two types of wisdom spoken of here.  Human wisdom and Gods wisdom.  I compared the two from these writings in chapters 1:18-2&3.

HUMAN WISDOM                                    VS                  GOD’S WISDOM

Seeks things of the flesh                                                              Seeks things of the Spirit

Words can decrease the effect of the cross                         No words required to demonstrate power of the cross

The unsaved perceive the cross as foolishness                   The saved see the power of God in the cross

Is foolishness to God                                                                      By being a fool we become wise

Impossible to discern spiritual things                                       Is able to discern all things

Sometimes…  wisdom would mean silence.  Only our Lord through the Holy Spirit can give the required wisdom. Otherwise it is from knowledge only and without understanding.

Wisdom can be unhelpful when we try to do things on our own instead of relying on Jesus, submitting to him.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing who don’t want to know God.

QUESTION 2:  WHAT WILL BE YOUR ONE THING?

No matter what I do Jesus loves me.

To live by the grace of God.

God’s love…  So great he sent Jesus to die for us.  If you can’t hang on to that there is nothing to hang on to!

God is love and Jesus is the proof!

Praying to be enabled to come progressively closer in Fellowship and Spirit to Jesus Christ.

My one thing will be faithfulness this year. Previous years have had a different focus on different elements of the fruits of the spirit, but I feel faithfulness is the theme for me this year. Being able to trust God wholeheartedly that he will be working all things out for good and his glory and I shouldn’t be worried about my future. I can’t lose with him in control.

There is one God above all, creator of all, and one purpose – to worship Him with heart, soul and mind.

For me, the ‘one thing’ is grace and hope. Just thinking about everything that is included in grace (thinking particularly of Romans 5) gives me tingles! How mind blowing is it that how faith is not based on anything we have or can ever do? And that Jesus did it for us before he even knew us?  Life in Christ is a constant cycle of dying and being reborn that we have to go through (and getting grace every day!).  When we trust in Jesus, we are secure in his love.

Trust in the guidance from the Holy Spirit to present the truth wisely to the type of person presented to me.

To elevate, extol, proclaim, magnify the name of Jesus – Saviour, crucified, risen, Victor & only Hope for me!

Jesus Christ crucified for our sins so that we can take on the Gift Of Life!

Paul is widely believed not to have been an eloquent or extroverted teacher, nor in his appearance.  He, was apparently quite timid although very strong when required – a true servant of Jesus. He did not adorn himself with common human ‘ornaments’. He determined to know nothing in Corinth (and all other Churches he founded/visited) but Jesus Christ and him crucified.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

Paul says in 1Cor 3:11 that we can lay on no other foundation than on Jesus Christ.  Jesus asks us to seek his fingdom first and in John 15:5 he says we can do nothing without Him.  Phil. 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  But also with Paul I cry out ‘what a wretched one I am’.  So we are humbled by this amazing love of Jesus Christ, receive his Grace allowing him to fill our empty vessel to be poured out to others.

Not my own efforts but God’s amazing grace shown on the cross!

Love others as God/Jesus loves me.

My one thing has four parts – Grace alone, Christ alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone!   (Is that cheating?).

My one thing in life is to live honourably for God and do as well as I can to follow his Word.

I will keep writing prayers for those who need prayer.  As I write Jesus is present and tears flow so often.  I walway thank God for everything.  If it wasn’t for him I would not be here.  Praise the Lord!

QUESTION 3:  WHY BECOME WEAK AFRAID AND TREMBLING?

Because a person exposing their own vulnerability is the most powerful thing to give.

Sometimes we do things in pride and need to be humbled and forgiven.

Perhaps weakness restores a humble attitude?

It’s by nothing we did, so why should we stand above others? We are all as guilty and as forgiven as everyone else. Come stand humbly before your God. The people in the bible who had the hardest lesson to learn, forced to bow down weak and trembling before God, achieved the most amazing miracles by letting God use them for his glory.

It is not enough to trust our own ability.  We rely on strength of God in our weakness, which is what we require.

Perhaps we need all else stripped away so the façade and bravado and surface show are gone.  Then we can meet God as you truly are and finally rest in Him.  But so much gets in the way… until we are weak.

To admit weakness is to be able to finally receive grace.

It’s okay to be afraid and to fear the awesomeness of speaking the message.  All we can do is to sow a tiny seed, and trust God will give the increase.  If someone comes to God, it isn’t our work!   Paul literally came with physical weakness and trembling when he was blinded and didn’t eat for 3 days.  That would have made anyone tremble.    It says he regained his sight, got baptised and then when he had regained his strength he preached to them.

Being vulnerable helps connect with those hurting around you.

In order to be afraid, weak and trembling requires that we show total love and respect for Jesus in all aspects of our lives.  We need to be overawed by his presence, filled by the deep sense of our weaknesses, be totally humbled.

I believe Paul came to the Corinthians in a fully humbled state filled with the power of the Holy Spirit not with any human strength.  Paul was so humbled by God’s grace in his life that he was fully surrendered into being that empty vessel filled with the Holy Spirit to be poured out into the lives of the Corinthians. Having no dependence in himself and in his weakness and fear of God, he became empowered by the Holy Spirit with much trembling. The Power of God manifested within his body to become a message without words.   Why come weak, afraid and trembling?    So that I too can Glory in his presence…

Perhaps we need to go there to admit we are not the ‘god of our own lives’ and stop trying to control everything.

My answers are from the perspective of having Motor Neurone Disease [MND is a debilitating disease].  I really identified with Paul’s about fear and trembling at speaking.   Another MND patient said that words become the enemy when you have MND. I am not sure if I would quite put it that way but I understand what he meant. It is terrible not knowing if your mouth will work and if people will understand you. It is scary.  I have really learnt to rely on the Spirit to lift me up when I speak in public.  I also particularly understand Paul’s words about weakness. When you have MND everyone flaps around. There is no known cause and really no cure. Even the specialists are pretty helpless.  The best they can do is try and relieve the symptoms and monitor your demise!   It’s just you and God!  I always reflect on a wonderful quote from Helmut Thielicke “Perhaps, (sometimes) we need hunger and nakedness and imprisonment, in order that we may lose our own strength and learn to understand the blessing of empty hands… for they teach us… to cry out for the riches and the abundance in the Father’s hands.”   When you have MND you only have empty hands. In fact it is empty hands all round!  MND frustrates me a lot. I love speaking, preaching and walking and it affects all of those. I pray every day for healing.  At the same time ironically however, I have never felt so blessed. I now treasure every day…   (Pastor Rick Zweck)

God is perfect.  Yet we, who are imperfect, are delivering his message.  If we do not acknowledge our weakness then the message we give is that we think we are perfect.  Wrong !

God is Holy, Pure, Mighty, Majestic, Awesome and forgiving.  But the evil one often attacks us with doubt.  So times of weakness, fear and trembling drive me ever closer/deeper into the all-embracing love and Grace

of our Heavenly Father.  There is nowhere else to go but to the Fountain of mercy… God’s Love in Christ..

I am afraid and fearful, weak and trembling.  I still depend on me instead of God.  I realise I have done wrong and with the help of the Holy Spirit He intercedes for me in my weakness to get me through.  I am weak but He is strong!

QUESTION 4:  WHAT DOES YOUR FAITH REST ON?

The power of the infinite holy spirit and its presence in my life and decision making.

God is in control.  His timing is perfect.  WAIT and direction and answers come!

My faith rests on the work God has done in my life. I see the impact from past experiences in my life and trust God for the times ahead.  It’s the reinforcing bar in the foundations of my faith. Those times help keep my faith strong in times of trouble. When the world tries to shake and crack my faith, the rebar moments of my past remind me of what God has done already and strengthens me for the trials. Every small victory with Christ is yet another steel bar placed into the concrete foundations of my faith.

“Faith is the living power from heaven that grasps the promise God has given.”  On every occasion when the Word is read, studied, sung, meditated upon the Spirit’s faith-enacting, transforming Power is at work.  I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel…

My faith rests on God’s faithfulness.

Every time I read my Bible, God shows me something new!  Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness!”

For me faith makes sense of everything because of God’s grace.  I just cannot imagine a world without God, but more than that, God’s grace in Christ answers all the evil and trouble there ever was or will be.

My faith rests on my inability to disbelieve.

Paul wanted the faith of the Corinthians to not stand on human wisdom but on the power of God. He did not want them to rest their faith in him.  He sought to find nothing but the faith in the crucified Jesus Christ in the people of Corinth. This is also my faith which the Word says can only come about through the Holy Spirit.

My faith rests on the knowledge that God’s love is bigger and stronger than anything.  So strong, he chases after me every time I run away.  Inside of his love, we are allowed to struggle and make mistakes, but God never gives up on us. God’s love is the foundation for his character; it motivates his actions and his words for our lives.

I have seen at first-hand how weak I am and how powerless others can be!  Who do i put my faith in, In Christ alone.

I am young and God has shown me that when you are young you should not be arrogant and exclusive to only talk with other young people. It is good to talk with all generations as everyone has something to offer. I am speaking with Godly wisdom when I say to the young people of our congregation and the church, listen to the older generations and be respectful!  In doing so you will grow.  (A youth leader).

When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of the world grow strangely dim – including we ourselves.  Many are looking for peace and joy, and the world suggests that we find it within ourselves.  For Christians, peace and joy is found outside ourselves.  My one message is “Jesus loves me, this I know.”