I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, and not the kind that appeals to the rulers of this world, who are being brought to nothing. No, the wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God. —
1 Corinthians 2:6-7
There’s a kind of wisdom known as “street smarts.” It’s the wisdom of the street child who is deprived of home and family and learns how to survive in a vicious, hostile environment without love and by his wits. In his netherworld, he prospers.
Then there’s the wisdom of the philosophy major in an elite college. He studies the discussions of Socrates, learns the findings of Plato, and becomes acquainted with classical thought and its application to the modern world.
The street child, smart beyond imagination in his concrete jungle, would be as lost in the classroom as the student would be in the cities’ enclaves. They both have accumulated wisdom, but each has a wisdom foreign to the other’s world.
When Paul preached the gospel in Corinth, he was well-acquainted with the wisdom of the classical philosophers, but he avoided using their language and he chose not to use their arguments. He did this for a very good reason. He was speaking of a wisdom that was as foreign to the Greeks of Corinth as the “wisdom” of the street child and the philosophy major are foreign to each other.
Paul was not speaking unwisely. On the contrary, he said, “I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, and not the kind that appeals to the rulers of this world, who are being brought to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:6). Instead, “The wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God” (2:7).
The great Greek philosophers who had used their considerable intellectual abilities to ponder the great themes of human existence had, at best, been able only to speculate on answers. They had tried to unlock “the secret wisdom of God,” which only God could unlock. These speculations caused massive problems for the classical thinkers.
The secret wisdom of God centered around Jesus dying on a cross for the sins of the world.
This concept was so appalling to the Greek Corinthians that many of them rejected it as nonsense. Their problem was that they were relying solely on human rationality and ignoring the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. But, as Paul said, “Only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means” (2:14). And only those who have God’s Spirit can understand what God in His wisdom is saying.
Street smarts don’t work in the Ivy League, and classical thought is useless on city streets. But the secret wisdom of God is relevant in both places, and it changes lives wherever and whenever it is embraced.
For further study: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.