From His riches, God has poured out on us an amazing bounty of grace and goodness.
As an example of how God gives gifts, let's consider Abraham, who is considered the forefather of us all.
We know very little of Abraham's birth. We know that he came from Ur of the Chaldeans. Although we do not consider him a Babylonian, that is what Chaldeans were and that is where Abraham came from. His father was Terah, and was possibly the one who moved Abraham and his family from Ur to Haran. The Spirit of God says:
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation. Abraham was only one man when I called him. But when I blessed him, he became a great nation. ()
Because of the call of God, Abraham received promises and blessings beyond measure. These blessings and promises were received by faith. While Abraham yet lived, he did not see all the promises and blessings we are talking about. God promised Abraham that He would make Abraham the father of many nations. Abraham died long before this ever happened. But, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. () More than earthly or physical blessings, Abraham received blessings of an eternal and spiritual nature. We see evidence of this in Scripture when it says:
Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. ()
God chose Abraham when he was far from God in a godless nation among a godless people. God chose Abraham and made him great. He did not choose Abraham because he was already great.
Think about when you were called. Were you great? Were you mighty?
1 Corinthians 1:26 asks us to consider or remember our calling.
First, consider what we receive as a part of our calling.
We receive eternal life.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we were dead in our trespasses and sins. () We were lost and without hope in the world. () Our calling from God involves Him moving us out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of His beloved Son. We were held captive by the devil to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26) We were set free. We were redeemed and made part of God's family. We are children of God.
We are also saved from the penalty of our sins.
Even though we freely admit that we have sinned, we have no fear of punishment because we know that by the grace of God our sins have been forgiven and we have been made clean and pure. This is not because of what we have done. It is based solely on what Christ did on the cross and it is ours because of the call or invitation of God. Without this call of God, we would be condemned to an eternity in hell because of our sin and unrighteousness.
The Holy Spirit says:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. ()
The call of God is not based on our wisdom.
The call of God is not based on our power.
The call of God is not based on our birth.
We humans put much emphasis on wisdom, power and birth.
Just look in the self-help section of the bookstore. The great number of books implies the importance of wisdom and knowledge. There are books to tell us how to overcome numerous problems and challenges. There are books that promise to teach us how to succeed. There are books that promise to teach us how to be happy. These all claim to have wisdom for our lives.
Look at how much we invest in education and you will understand that we place a high value on wisdom and knowledge.
We also put much emphasis on power.
From the nations of the world to the living rooms of our houses, power struggles never cease. Power is about control. Power determines who gets resources and who gets their way. North Korea feels they need nuclear weapons and the missile delivery systems to reach anywhere in the world, and we fear they would use them if they had them. This is just one of many power struggles currently going on in our world. I hope that the power struggles in our houses do not involve nuclear weapons. But, sadly, some of us threaten to kill the relationship in order to get our way. Make no mistake; divorce is murder -- murder of the relationship, the family and the oneness established by God. This happens because we want control. We want our own way.
We humans also put much emphasis on birth - heritage.
Some are born into nobility. Unless you are born into the royal family, you do not need to worry about ever being king or queen of England. In the same way, most of us do not need to worry about inheriting the riches of Donald Trump or Bill Gates.
However, we are all born into families. We are all born into nationalities and races. We are all born into religions. There are many who consider themselves Christians because they were born into Christian homes. If you are born on American soil, you are automatically an American citizen. If you are born to Asian parents, you are Asian. There is no choice involved in this. If your parents are not Japanese, you will never be Japanese, even if you take Japanese citizenship. One can change their citizenship, but one cannot change their race, or the accidents of birth.
Since wisdom, power and birth are so important to us, we boast in these things. If you do not have a college degree, you need not apply for some jobs. If you are not powerful, you will be taken advantage of. If you are not born into the right family, religion, race or nationality, you may be blocked from going where you want to go.
When 1 Corinthians 1:26 tells us to consider our calling, it points out that not many of us were wise, powerful or of noble birth.
It says, "Not many.” This would imply that some are. These are the exceptions and if you are one of these exceptions be grateful -- grateful but not proud. The Holy Spirit says:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. ()
Our boasting and reliance on human wisdom, power and birth is not good. The Lord indicates how much He is displeased with our pride when he says:
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. ()
We know that the new birth, our redemption and salvation do not rely on human strength. John 1:13 says:
Wisdom has its place. Proverbs 1:7 says:
It is foolish to despise wisdom.
Power has its place because God has ordained government. Romans 13:1 says:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. ()
It is foolish to despise power or authority.
Even our parentage has its place, for none of us would be where we are without it.
It is foolish to despise our heritage.
It is also foolish to boast in or put our confidence in these things. As the passage quoted above states, "God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians1:28-29, NLT)
All our boasting must be in the Lord. All our confidence must be in the Lord. This is where 1 Corinthians 1:30 takes us. It lays out for us some of the reason we have to boast in the Lord.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. ()
"Because of him" is referring to God the Father who has brought to nothing the wisdom, power and nobility of the world. It is because of Him, because of His calling, that we are in Christ Jesus.
Verse 26 calls us to consider, remember our calling. This is where it has led us. We started with nothing, and as a result of this calling we are now in Christ Jesus. Look at what it says Jesus has become to us. He has become wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Let's consider each of these briefly in turn.
He has become wisdom to us. He is the mystery of God hidden from ages past. He is the Word made flesh, the very revelation of the glory of God.
He has become righteousness to us. He is our breastplate of righteousness; by His wounds, we are healed. God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He has become sanctification to us. In Him, we are made holy, called saints and set apart for the kingdom of God. We have an inheritance that the world has not given and the world cannot take away.
He has become redemption to us. We were slaves to sin, but we have been set free to live for Him and by His power. Because of Him, we belong to Jesus and to the Father and have the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Because of these things, we can boast in the Lord. Long before Jesus was born, the prophet Jeremiah wrote:
Thus says the Lord : "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” ()
This series has been titled, "God's Power in Perilous Times.” One of the biggest perils for humanity is our pride. Pride and boasting will only yield to the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner person. Let's take 1 Corinthians 1:31 to heart.