The Smartest Man in The Room
1 Corinthians 3:18-20
My son has a friend; we’ll call him Rick, names have been changed to protect the identity of the annoying. Rick is one of those guys who, due to his insecurities, need to be the smartest man in any room. You know, that person who makes you ask yourself, “why does my son hang around him?” No matter what’s going on, no matter what the topic, Rick knows more than everyone else about that subject. And, he’s the guy that always says inflammatory things to see if he can get a rise out of people. No matter what the subject, he’s going to do his best to try to make you think he knows more than you.
Rick and I recently had a conversation about the Church in America, and every point I made he would come back with, “Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” I mentioned that, although Christ and His disciples spent their entire ministry fighting religion, the Church today has become little more than a religious organization. What was his response? “Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” I talked about how the Church today has become a corporation, and he came back with that same response. So, I asked him why Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple; he responded that they were making God’s house into a den of thieves…Hello!
We all know Ricks. We all know people who have that insatiable urge to top everyone else. But what does Paul say about this in 1 Corinthians 3:18-20? “18 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” 20 And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”
First, he tells us to stop deceiving ourselves. We can all end up in a place where we are deceiving ourselves, can’t we? I know there are times that I think I’m the smartest man in the room, but we need to keep our egos in check and realize that we can always learn from others, even guys like Rick.
This next statement seems to be a little contradictory, but Paul tells us that we may think we are wise by the world’s standards, but to truly become wise, we must first become a fool.
What Paul is saying here is that if you want to be truly wise, you must first renounce the world’s wisdom. You must be willing to look foolish in the world’s eyes; in other words, you must humble yourself to truly become wise. What does James 4:10 say? “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” We must humble ourselves first, then let Christ lift us up. Whenever we try to lift ourselves up, it doesn’t turn out well, even if we think it did.
The Bible talks a lot about humility. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” Matthew 5:5. And, when Jesus was talking about who will be the greatest in His kingdom, He said, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:4. In fact, in Matthew 23:11-12, Jesus said, “11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” So, if you truly want to be great, serve others…the world will never tell you that. But if you don’t humble yourself, He will humble you! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be humbled by God…just sayin’.
Let’s face it, our ultimate example for everything in this world is Jesus, and He gave the ultimate example of humility. Look at Philippians 2:5-11, “5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What does it say in verse 8? In obedience to the father, Jesus not only died for our sins but He, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the creator of everything, humbled Himself and died a criminal’s death. What does Galatians 3:13 say? “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” And, because of His humility, we read in verse 9 that God has given Him a name that is above every other name, and that at the name of Jesus every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that Jesus Christ IS Lord, and this will glorify the Father. Hallelujah!
So, when you feel that urge to try to sound wise to those around you, take a step back and think of ways you can humble yourself. Think of how you can serve that person. When I’m talking to someone like Rick, I get the urge to put him in his place, and sometimes I try to, but we need just to humble ourselves and, maybe we can learn something.