Prov. 17:25 – A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
1 Cor. 4:10 – We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
In I Corinthians 1-4, the Apostle Paul revisits the glories of the power and wisdom of God resident in the cross of Christ with a group of saints that had become stuck in the carnality that attends the worldly wise. The power and prestige of economic advancement paired with the educational conquests of Greek philosophy had become so influential among them that they were neglecting the cross as the true source of the Father’s power and wisdom. In their own eyes and those of their societal peers, the Corinthians were wise, strong and honorable. This was so, not because of the presence of the preaching of the cross among them, but rather because of its absence; and therein lies the problem with which Paul doctrinally contends. Their wisdom and power with men was void of the wisdom and power of God, and for this reason they were highly esteemed by the world.
This, however, was very different than the way that the Apostle Paul was viewed. The preaching of the cross in which he labored was a matter of worldly laughter; an all-out foolish and weak proclamation of a Christ who was beaten and slain and set forth as the remedy for all of man’s problems. Rationalism saw no wisdom in that; theology saw no power in it. Only a fool, therefore, would give his life and energy and time for the propagation of such nonsense. Thus in the world’s view, Paul was seen to be a fool, as weak, and despised.
In view of this, it is not hard to comprehend Paul’s point in I Cor. 4:10. He is contrasting his own Christian experience with that of the Corinthians, and doing so from the world’s perspective. His Christianity was foolish to the world, theirs was wise. His Christianity was weak to the world, theirs was strong. His Christianity was despised, theirs was honourable.
This, however, was the world’s view. God’s view was altogether different, for God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (I Cor. 1:27). The wisdom of men does not impress God, nor does man’s power. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (I Cor. 3:19). Paul may well have been a fool for Christ in man’s view, but he certainly was not a fool in the eyes of God. To the contrary, in seeking to appease and impress the world and striving to be esteemed wise by it, the Corinthians had allowed themselves to become fools in the eyes of their Father. To Paul, this was a tragedy to be avoided with a dread that surpassed suffering in any form. He had rather suffer the loss of all things and win Christ, than seek to please men and not be faithful as Christ’s servant. He was willing to be thought a fool for Christ in this world in order to be accepted of His Father in heaven. What a marvelous contrast!
The bottom line is that all saints must come to terms with the fact that we will be fools in the eyes of someone. Who that is will depend largely upon who we are more concerned with pleasing. Either the world will think us fools while we serve our Father, or our Father will think us fools while we serve the world. The former is attended by temporal suffering and eternal glory; the latter, temporal glory and eternal shame. Our sojourn here, as believers, is not inconsequential. We will be someone’s grief and bitterness, and we will be someone’s glory and joy. Will it be the world or will it be our Father? What kind of fool are you?