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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, February 8, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 2:13–16

And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (NRSV)

Even at a young age, my daughter has learned that if you lack for knowledge, Google can be your friend. The digital age has allowed us to easily and almost instantaneously look up what we wish to know from a database of countless sources, be they academic, popular, or hearsay. The breadth of human wisdom appears to be at our fingertips, be it the achievements of science and technology, tips on finance, or insights into the human spirit through various forms of psychology and theology.

At first glance, reading this passage from Paul’s letter, you might think Paul to be an enemy of knowledge and learning, with his contrast between the spiritual and the human. However, Paul’s true opponent is an overly narrow definition of wisdom. What the Corinthians seem to call wisdom are those various forms of it that help us excel in life’s various competitions for wealth, power, relationship. Through the fields of philosophy and rhetoric, Greek and Roman culture did not hesitate to address these subjects, yet Paul expands these conventional understandings of wisdom to include that which makes us whole and fully human.

And Paul did this through an emphasis on human frailty and weakness as the way in which God works through Christ in the world. In the Spirit, we find a life shaped by the cross rather than competition for things. Paul can boast in his weakness, frailty, and woundedness, for these are the qualities of human endeavor and divine love through which the Spirit of God redeems. All wisdom is God’s wisdom, but Paul challenges us to look for wisdom in forgotten and overlooked corners of the human condition. In the wisdom of the Spirit, we will find not the restlessness of ever-striving for more and more knowledge but the peace and assurance of the wisdom of God.

God of all truth, in a world filled with knowledge, help me find wisdom in Christ’s way of weakness and to rest in its strength. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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