The Signs of the Times


May 26, 1887

The Divine Estimate of Worldly Wisdom


“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men; for all things are yours.” ST May 26, 1887, par. 1

Such is the admonition of Paul to the Corinthian church. He would not have them dazzled or misled by those who were “wise in this world.” Instead of seeking distinction, they must become fools in the estimation of worldly wise men, if they would become wise in the estimation of God. Extraordinary talent was not to be considered the chief thing; for unless consecrated to God, and sanctified by his Spirit, it would prove a curse rather than a blessing. ST May 26, 1887, par. 2

“The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” The wisdom of this world is too highly valued, the wisdom from above too little sought, by the professed people of the Lord. Men may have a knowledge of Christian doctrine, and yet understand little of Christian experience. Many are keen, apt, prompt, in worldly affairs, while they manifest little interest, tact, or energy in the service of God. They do not bring their talent and shrewdness into exercise in watching to discern the devices of Satan, and studying how they may outgeneral the enemy. They do not summon all their powers to form wise plans, and to make earnest, systematic effort to advance the cause of God. ST May 26, 1887, par. 3

Every man, of whatever trade or profession, should make the cause of God his first interest; he should not only exercise his talents to advance the Lord's work, but he should cultivate his ability to this end. The wisdom and energy used in worldly, temporal things should be devoted to spiritual and eternal things. Many a man devotes months and years to the acquirement of a trade or profession that he may become successful in worldly matters, who yet makes no effort to cultivate those talents which would make him a successful laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. This is the great sin of the professed people of God. They serve themselves and serve the world; they become shrewd, successful financiers; but they neglect to use in his service the talents which God has given them. Their tact in worldly matters is becoming stronger through exercise; that in spiritual things is becoming weaker through inactivity. ST May 26, 1887, par. 4

The present is a time when these talents, used in the cause of God, would tell with great effect in the upbuilding of his kingdom. But Satan has outgeneraled us in this matter. There are men professing godliness, who are false teachers, tempters, seducers. They have cultivated their talents in this direction, and they employ all their ingenuity in disseminating unbelief, impiety, infidelity. Had the true followers of Christ been cultivating their ability with equal zeal and diligence, they might now be wise enough to discern the devices of Satan; they would be prepared to stand in defense of the truth, and to meet and successfully expose the deceptions of the ungodly. ST May 26, 1887, par. 5

The church of Christ, and especially the ministers of the gospel, are building up the temple of the Lord,—building upon the foundation-stone, which is Christ himself. Paul testifies: “Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it.” We are building for eternity; and it is doubly important now that we take heed how we build. If we indulge doubt and unbelief, we are bringing worthless material to the foundation-stone. It is only as we labor in faith that we can bring to the building that which is precious and enduring. Many are drifting into darkness and infidelity, picking flaws with the Bible, and bringing in superstitious inventions, unscriptural doctrines, and philosophical speculations; others divert the mind from important truths by exciting trifling inquiries and disputations. Those who permit themselves to be thus hindered are giving place to the adversary, while they might be bringing gold, silver, and precious stones to lay upon the foundation. ST May 26, 1887, par. 6

It is our work to direct souls to the living oracles. We must present to them sound doctrine, even the faith once delivered to the saints. We must show them the truth in its beauty, that they may be led to renounce error. We must instruct them in faith, love, obedience, and hope, that through much prayer they may grow up “a holy temple in the Lord.” The day of Judgment will test every man's work. Let us so build that our work may endure the fiery trial. ST May 26, 1887, par. 7

Paul says: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A man of strict fidelity is a valuable steward, though he may not possess as great accomplishments or as high order of talents as do some others. One who seeks to advance the truth for the glory of God and the good of souls, without respect of persons, and regardless of his own ease, interest, or honor,—such a man should be highly esteemed, though he may not possess learning or eloquence. He is God's nobleman. In the sight of Heaven he presents the highest type of manhood. ST May 26, 1887, par. 8

And such a man will not lose his reward. Paul testifies: “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's: and Christ is God's.” Here are presented the privileges of true believers. In possessing Christ, they possess all things. As his chosen, redeemed people, they are joint-heirs with him. The abilities, gifts, and services of apostles and ministers are intended for their benefit. All the treasuries of God are opened to them. The world, with everything in it, is theirs, so far as it can do them good. Even the enmity of the wicked will prove a blessing by disciplining them for Heaven. In the promise, “All things are yours,” there is bounty without limit; but we must have faith in order to appropriate this promise, and receive the blessings which it offers. ST May 26, 1887, par. 9

When the Judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, there will be many astonishing disclosures. Men will not then appear as they now appear to human eyes and finite judgments. Secret sins will then be laid open to the view of all. Motives which have been hidden in the dark chambers of the heart will be revealed. Designing ambitions, selfish purposes, will be seen where the outward appearance told only of a desire to honor God and to do good to men. What revelations will then be made. Men of pure motives and true and noble purpose may now be neglected, slandered, and despised; but they will then appear in their true character, and will be honored with the commendation of God. Hypocritical, ambitious teachers may now be admired and exalted of men; but God, who knows the secrets of the heart, will strip off the deceptive covering, and reveal them as they are. Every hypocrite will be unmasked every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful steward of God will be approved and rewarded. ST May 26, 1887, par. 10

Not all are Christ's who adopt his name and wear his badge. Jesus says, “Follow me.” Are they following him who indulge sinful habits and enjoy the frivolities of the world? Can we see the footprints of the Saviour in the path they tread?—No. If we have not the Spirit of Christ, we are none of his. We cannot serve two masters; we cannot belong to Christ and to Belial. If in our habits and practices we are the world's, we do not belong to Christ. We may be his in the sense in which the earth and the beasts of the forest are his, but we are not his chosen ones. ST May 26, 1887, par. 11

To be Christ's is to be consecrated to his work, to employ every power of the mind and every member of the body to do his will and to advance his glory. It is to open the heart to his word, to contemplate his matchless charms until the overflowing tribute of the soul shall be, “Hear what the Lord has done for me.” ST May 26, 1887, par. 12

The voice of Divine Wisdom, through the words of the apostle, speaks to us as it spoke to the church at Rome more than eighteen hundred years ago: “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Will we hesitate to choose between the wisdom of this world, which ends in death, and the wisdom from above, which makes us wise unto everlasting life? ST May 26, 1887, par. 13

Basel, Switzerland.