Educator Michael Bycraft argues that failure can be a valuable experience for children. He explains: “If we have always taught our kids that every test must be an A+, then how do we support them when it isn’t?” He argues there’s a better approach: “Failure is a gift. Setbacks, changes and struggles are an essential part of learning.” Failure gives us all an opportunity to learn. As believers, it helps to realize that God’s views of wisdom and strength are often the reverse of our own (vv. 18–20, 25). Human wisdom is foolishness to the Lord, while God’s wisdom looks like foolishness to the world. Similarly, human strength is weakness to the Lord, while God’s strength looks like weakness to the world.
The ultimate example of this is the “message of the cross.” Traditionally, a cross is a symbol of failure and death, but God used it to achieve victory and life for all who believe. The Jewish people wondered how Christ’s death could possibly show God’s power. And Greeks saw claims of miracles, especially the Resurrection, as nonsense (see Acts 17:32). Only those “whom God has called” see the reality here of God’s power and wisdom (v. 24).
Additional evidence for this God’s upside-down perspective is seen in the lives of believers (vv. 26–31). Paul reminded the Corinthians (and also us) that God does not choose us for our wealth, social status, intelligence, or other qualities. God’s selections may seem unlikely—we are all “in Christ Jesus” because of God’s grace, not our merit. In order to see failure and success through God’s eyes, we must understand and live according to this upside-down truth!
>> We invite you to do today what Paul asked the Corinthians to do: “Think of what you were when you were called” (v. 26). What did you value? How did you live? Where would you be today without the good news of Christ?
Paul’s words, “Think of what you were when you were called” (1 Cor. 1:26), prompt our prayer of gratitude: Lord Jesus, we praise you for your salvation, for taking us from darkness into your light, and for giving us beauty for ashes!