For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise….
— 1 Corinthians 1:26,27
Through the ages, God has always delighted in choosing normal people to do His business. If you consider yourself to be a normal, average kind of person, that means you are just the kind of person God is looking to use!
First Corinthians 1:26 says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.…” Do you see the word “noble” in this verse? It comes from the Greek compound word eugenes. The first part of the word is the Greek prefix eu, which means well or good. The second part of the word is the Greek word genes, from which we get our English word for the human gene. When these two words are compounded together, the new word portrays people who are well-born or who have excellent genes.
In ancient Greece, the word eugenes meant men of high descent, such as sons of kings, politicians, or others from the upper crust of society. It referred to individuals whose ancestors had been powerful, wealthy, rich, or famous. These were high-born, blue-blooded, cultured, refined, courtly, pedigreed, aristocratic people who sustained their lofty positions in society based on their birth.
Examples of this class of people would be members of royalty who held their exalted positions in society whether or not they personally merited those positions. They were born into the upper crust and stayed there simply because of their family name or relations.
Modern examples of eugenes are sons and daughters of kings and queens who retain their royal posts simply because of the blood that runs in their veins. Other examples would be the sons and daughters of famous and beloved politicians. Although the offspring themselves may not have accomplished anything significant, their famous last name has sealed their fame and place in society. They were born with a “name” that gives them lifetime guarantees and access to privileges that are not available to common people with unknown names.
But the word eugenes can also refer to people who carry the seed of genius as a result of the good genes with which they were born. An example of this category of eugenes would be the family of Albert Einstein.
Some years ago, I was visiting a pastor in New York City who told me an interesting story about a visit he had with the niece of Albert Einstein. He was amazed to discover she had five earned doctorates and held several prominent positions in universities in New York City. Like her uncle Albert, she was endowed with genius in her genes, and it carried her all the way to the top of every field in which she became involved.
Let me give you another example of “good genes” as portrayed by the Greek word eugenes. Before the Russian revolution, noble families owned the lands and controlled the territory of Russia. In 1917 when the Red Army seized power, all of Russia’s rich decoration and regal royalty came to an abrupt end. The nobility was killed or fled to foreign countries. It looked as if history had buried them forever.
Thank God, today the communist regime is gone. In its place, a brand-new rich Russian class is emerging. People often ask, “Who are these new super-rich Russians?” It is interesting to note that many of them have the same family names of the old ruling class that dominated Russia before the 1917 revolution. The nobility that runs in their veins is too strong to be held down. Once again, it is taking them to the top of society.
The Russian nobility were endowed with powerful genes. These genes have been passed down to the present generation. Now the offspring of the Russian nobles are reassuming positions of power that were once occupied by their grandparents. This tendency to rule and reign is in their genes.
The word eugenes describes both kinds of people — those born into famous families who enjoy the inherent privileges of their last name, and those who carry a streak of genius, talent, or superiority in their genes. These are “the upper crust” — the ruling class or aristocracy of the world.
However, Paul says that God hasn’t specialized in calling this category of people. Take a look at world history, and you’ll see that God hasn’t primarily specialized in using kings, queens, royalty, politicians, scientists, philosophers, writers, movie stars, or celebrities to advance His Kingdom. From the onset of time, God has reached into the hearts of ordinary men and women. These are the ones who most often accomplish mighty feats through His grace and power.
So if God isn’t looking for the upper crust of society, He must be looking to “the lower crust” — in other words, to the ordinary, usual, regular, routine, run-of-the-mill, standard, typical kind of people. This means that if you come from a normal, average background, you are possibly the very one God wants to use!
Yes, God has called the rich and famous as well, but it is the regular folks who most often find themselves chosen by God to carry out His will in the earth. He specializes in using ordinary people, just like you and me. That is why Paul goes on to say, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.…”
The word “foolish” is from the Greek word moraino. The word “moron” also comes from this Greek word. My thesaurus gives these other synonyms for a “moron”: idiot, imbecile, halfwit, numskull, dimwit, dunce, blockhead, dope, ignoramus, lamebrain, jerk, or twerp!
The truth is, no one is an idiot in God’s view. But the world often views people whom God chooses as being nitwits, lamebrains, and idiots. It is worth noting that the word moraino was used in Paul’s time to depict people whom the world scorned, made fun of, and treated with contempt.
Because much of the Early Church was comprised of servants and slaves, most of the people in the local congregations were very uneducated, uncultured, clumsy, crude, awkward, and unpolished. It wasn’t that they were stupid. They had simply never been exposed to or taught about manners, culture, and refined behavior. Reared and treated as servants since birth, they’d never had a need to know these skills.
However, the early Christians’ lack of polish made them look stupid in the world’s eyes. In fact, the Roman Empire at first looked upon Christianity as the religion of stupid, poor people because it grew so rapidly among the lower slave classes.
Yet Paul says, “…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.…” The word “confound” is the Greek word kataishuno. It means to put to shame, to embarrass, to confuse, to frustrate, to baffle. The word “wise” is again the word sophos, referring to those who are naturally brilliant, intellectually sharp, or especially enlightened. Paul is saying that God calls people whom the world considers morons in order to put to shame, embarrass, confuse, frustrate, and baffle those who think they’re so smart!
So if anyone has ever called you an idiot — if you’ve ever been called a stupid imbecile, a jerk, or a twerp — it’s time for you to rejoice! This makes you a candidate to be used for God’s glory!
The following expanded version of First Corinthians 1:26,27 gives a fuller picture of the Greek words used in this verse:
“For you see your calling, brothers, how not many of you were especially bright, educated, or enlightened according to the world’s standards; not many of you were impressive; not many came from high-ranking families or from the upper crust of society. Instead, God selected people who are idiots in the world’s view; in fact, the world sees them as imbeciles, jerks, real twerps. Yet God is using them to utterly confound those who seem smart in the world’s eyes….”
Therefore, even though you may not have any genius residing in your genes nor any nobility running in your blood, that isn’t a strike against you! You can’t lay claim to these factors as excuses for not being used by God! God isn’t looking for people who are geniuses or well-born, high-class blue bloods. He’s looking for anyone who will say yes to His call! So if you consider yourself to be just a regular ol’ person, it’s time for you to start rejoicing again! You are exactly the kind of person God wants to use!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me stop making excuses for why I think God shouldn’t use me! It’s time for me to stop ignoring the call of God and to accept the fact that He has laid His hand upon me and wants to use me in this world. Forgive me for putting this off for so long, but today I accept Your call. I reject all excuses for any further delay, and I gladly embrace what You are telling me to do!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I boldly confess that I am exactly the kind of person Jesus Christ wants to use! I may not have the blue blood of nobility flowing through my veins, but I have been touched, cleansed, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. That blood qualifies me! With the Word as my guide and the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, I have everything I need to do anything Jesus ever requires of me. I am quick to obey; I do not hesitate; and I am faithful to carry out every assignment that He gives me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Thinking back on those who were most mightily used by God throughout the ages, do you know from which class of society most of them came?
2. Now think about those whom God is greatly using to touch the world and confound society today. What class of society do most of these people come from? What kind of education did most of them have when God first started using them in a notable way? How many of them have blue blood running in their veins or would be deemed geniuses by the great universities of the world?
3. What does this tell you about God’s ability to use you?