God’s Ways Are Above Our Ways

Today’s passage is a challenge to all who believe that human reason is the source of the highest wisdom. Paul argues that natural human reason is insufficient, it is not mature enough to understand the mind of God.

As great as the human mind is in discovering the workings of the world, it is not capable of understanding the mind of God, without the gift of the Spirit. How can finite human reason, plum the infinite depths of the Mind of God? As Paul tells us, it cannot, without the gift of faith given to us by the Holy Spirit. God’s wisdom can only be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in and through our faith.

Paul is speaking with a Greek audience whose way of thinking would be very familiar to us in our own time. The Greeks believed profoundly in human reason, they considered it the highest source of wisdom in creation. They put all of their trust in human reason alone. Paul tells them that the message of wisdom he speaks is a maturer wisdom. It is not the wisdom of “this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” (verse 6) Rather, he is revealing a wisdom to them that comes from God, a wisdom which is beyond the powers of finite and naturally limited human reason. This message was not understood by many of the great minds of Paul’s day, nor is it understood, or accepted by many of those who consider themselves the “great minds” of our own day. Paul reasons that, if God’s wisdom had been understood, Christ would not have been crucified. Paul says to the Corinthian audience that what “eye has not seen, nor ear has heard” has been revealed to us in faith by the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.

Today’s passage is a challenge to all who believe that human reason is the source of the highest wisdom. Paul argues that natural human reason is insufficient, it is not “mature” enough to understand the mind of God. It is only the Holy Spirit that, “searches all things, [and reveals] the deep things of God.” (verse 10) He uses an example: A person’s thoughts can not be known by us, they can only be known by that person’s “own spirit within them.” Likewise, we cannot know the mind of God, “except through the Spirit of God.” (verse 11)

It is in this knowledge that today’s passage must be understood. “Who can know the mind of God so as to instruct him?” God’s ways are beyond me. I am often struck dumb by them, even frustrated at times. I am nothing, yet how often do I think, or worse act, as if I know better than God what is best for me, or any given situation? As Paul tells us, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” We have been given that Spirit through our baptisms. It is the Spirit that reveals the mind of Christ to us. Because we have been given the mind of Christ, we have come to know humility. We have come to know that it is only through the mind of Christ that we are able to judge what is truly good and true. We no longer put our trust in human reason alone. Our fullest trust is in the mind of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus, which we have come to understand more and more fully, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is our faith.

Holy Spirit, continue to enlighten us with the wisdom of God, which is the wisdom of magnanimous love and mercy. Empower us with an ever-deepening faith and trust in God’s wisdom. We pray that you continue to light our minds with this wisdom, and give us the courage to humbly and willingly live in and through it in our daily lives. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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