Awhile ago, I shared on this blog a story of when I was young in ministry, my mentor at the time- Doug told me I needed counseling if I desired to be a great pastor. I did not however share why he felt I needed this. He declared to me that I needed counseling because I had an arrogance and people-pleasing problem. I was literally terrified of making those over me dissatisfied with my work and my abilities. I thought so highly of myself that if others thought low of me I became depressive. I lived much of my life working hard for approval so I could be affirmed in how great I was. Any critique that came my way felt like a sting…how could I be wrong?! They must be wrong! It was a cancer that ate away at me and blinded my vision to others and life in general. It was so bad, at one point I had to call the youth pastor I was interning for to determine which bag of chips to get, so I didn’t get the wrong ones! That’s a problem. St. Augustine once stated: “Pride is pregnant with all the other sins” and I feel I must agree with that statement.
We all struggle with pride in life, it simply manifests itself in different ways. As Americans, we tend to be a bit more prideful than other countries and those of us who are more academic, this is heightened even more. We all need a bit more humility, because our pride is blocking us from being closer to the Lord as it was for the Corinthians church. So we must ask the question: How can we drop our pride and become fools?
READ- 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Paul is not shy of repeating himself. You’ll notice similar language in these couple verses as just a couple of blogs ago. Paul felt it important to repeat himself and so some of what I say will be repetition, but as one black preacher once said: “Good preaching is: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.” I think he borrowed that from Paul. Paul shares with the Corinthians and us, that one of the best ways of becoming fools is noting that:
Humility is the greatest ear cleaner (vs. 18-20)
The Corinthian church prided themselves on their wisdom. They felt they had the corner market on philosophical thinking, of which we discussed awhile back. They upheld their wisdom with arrogance and felt that they could move forward with God in this pride of their wisdom.
Yet, Paul knew they needed to be knocked down a few pegs. Paul knew that: Focusing on their own knowledge as a key to their spiritual standing, they avoided involvement with the amazing power of God. They felt that they had it, yet they were missing huge portions of the amazing power of God. Thinking themselves wise, some Corinthians were fools, for their wisdom caused them to scoff at or ignore the wisdom of God that was revealed in the cross of Christ. By embracing the seemingly foolish wisdom of God, they would become fools to the world but wise in the sight of God.
This they were fearful of doing, because they, like me feared man’s opinion of them. Paul was challenging them to think who’s view of them was more important: man’s view or God’s view? I believe this is a challenge you and I must allow ourselves to be faced with as well.
In life, whom are we trying to please? Are we seeking the affirmation of men or of God? Men will not always affirm that which God affirms and those things that men affirm will rarely be affirmed by God. That is why Paul states: “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God”. In order to become wise then, truly wise we must become fools. This is humbly admitting we are not wise and that God knows more than we do. This humility then gives us the ability to hear the voice of God.
Pride blocks our ability to hear the voice of God. When we come to God and ask Him to speak, while we are simply expecting him to affirm our choices or ideas, we are coming in pride. We are essentially saying: “God, I already know what I’m doing, I just want you to tell me good job!” Many Christians (and churches for that matter) desire to hear the voice of God. I’ve been asked several times: “How can I hear the voice of God?” and truthfully, the most important thing is humility. I have learned this several times the hard way. When it comes to our hearing the voice of God and seeing Him move in power, the best advice I have is expectation without agenda. Which means we have a deep expectation that God will speak to us, but we listen, not to hear what we want to hear but we listen to hear what He is truly saying. If we want him to affirm our decisions, we will miss His voice.
We see in this that those who perceive themselves as wise, so wise that they do not need God at all, are actually the real fools. We live so much of life believing that we are number one, when in reality our best moments are nothing without Christ.
The church as an institution is not immune to this either. Many churches come before the throne of God and approach it like a business deal. In essence, many say: “We feel our church is headed this way Lord! Bless our efforts, for they are all for you!” When in reality, it is a man-made plan, not a God-made plan. As the leader of this church, I know I have done this here, but I do not desire to make that mistake again. Next month, the student leaders and myself are getting away to pray and seek His face and His desires, because if we are simply a entertaining, man-driven venture, we may be popular but we most likely won’t be doing His work.
We’ve seen that in order to drop our pride and become fools, we must allow humility to become a supremely important portion of our life, it in fact gives us better ears to hear His voice. Next we must
Recognize that security comes from Christ, not man (vs. 21-23)
We live in a world of insecurity. All around us, people are hoping that the next car, iPhone, shopping spree, super bowl win, or whatever else will fulfill them and fill the insecurity with life they experience. Advertising is pointed at the insecurity of our nation’s people and we eat it up. Many of us fall into traps of temptation and sin because we just don’t feel adequate, we feel insecure about who we are, or our standing with the Father, just like I did and still do when it comes to pleasing people. However, in order to become fools, fools in the sense that the world looks at us and thinks we are foolish, we must seek to fully understand that we are secure in Christ. We needn’t boast in men, not even great men of the faith. We needn’t hide behind their lofty words of God to feel like we know God.
We must see that what He says about us is actually true about us and live in that reality. We will then see that we cannot fall out of grace with our Abba, that he loves us despite our mess. Men are fickle and change their opinions about us based on our performance, but God does not. This is why Paul declared to the Corinthians, and now to us: “…For all things are yours…and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s”. Which Christian clique or church, or ministry you belong to doesn’t determine your worth, the fact that you belong to Christ determines your worth.
The Corinthians felt that whom they followed in the “philosophy” of Christianity determined their worth, thus they fought to have the upper hand, to be those who were “more worthy”, yet the Holy Spirit through Paul awakened them to the understanding that they are all worthy, none more than the other, due to Christ. Here again, at the end of this section of Paul’s letter he is reminding his readers that unity is key in the life of the church, seeing that we ALL have everything that was Christ’s and that we ALL are Christ’s possession. We should see this reality and not only allow ourselves to become more secure in Him, but encourage the Church itself to be a secure place. The church should be a place where factions don’t exist and cliques are irrelevant, yet sadly due to racism, classism, sexism and elitism this is not the case. Too often we allow culture to dictate how we interact with one another, rather than allow the Spirit to set a new culture among us. If we live with the understanding that we are secure in Christ, I believe we will begin to become fools to the world in this, but wise before God; because, all people would have an equal importance within the body.
A man who understood this concept of dropping pride and becoming a fool better than most was King David. When he came before the Presence of God and brought back the Ark of the Covenant, he foolishly danced, even in front of his people. To the outsider, this was a foolish move, but it pleased the heart of God greatly. His opinion is the only opinion that matters and when we allow His Spirit to humble us, not only can we hear Him better, but we can embrace our full worth, knowing His deep love for us. Pride blocks this. I challenge you to pray a crazy prayer: “Lord, humble me to enable me to better hear your voice and to be secure in who I am”. Not only pray it, but mean it and watch how you begin to hear His voice and know your worth…all because you became a “fool.”
 Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 79). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.