"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
As a pastor in your ministry, to whom do you think you should be accountable and to what extent?
To answer this question, I must first define what accountable means. Being accountable means taking responsibility or fulfilling obligations. Our text defines obligations as, “The ethics of obligation seeks to define the moral principles or laws that must be obeyed.” These obligations also coincide with our priorities. We are obligated to everything and everyone that is biblically based, however many times these priorities tend to get out of whack causing our obligations to be unbalanced. There is no doubt regarding the obligations, expectations, and requirements that ministers face. Even though roles and job descriptions may appear cloudy, all ministers know that much is required of them. Our text points out the moral requirements of ministers by saying, “No professional is expected to model morality as much as a minister.” These requirements, however can sometimes be forgotten when the pressure to perform outweighs the consequences of moral failure. Mr. Tull mentions, “To be called as a pastor of a large, prestigious church is the goal that has led many good ministers to sacrifice their integrity on the altar of success.” While many ministers allow moral failure to creep in due to pressures from work, life, and peers, I would like to maintain that personal and moral integrity should follow our first obligation which is to God. Ministering and maintaining our obligations are possible. Our text mentions that, “Building a ministry based on integrity requires that a minister’s sense of calling and concept of service be biblical, ethical, and Christlike.”
Many lay members believe that the pastor or minister’s number one obligation is to them. They may deny this accusation and say that it is to God, but their actions speak louder than their words. I have witnessed many times as peers and good friends have fallen prey to a more powerful deacon board who are controlled by lay members which have the hunger of power in their hearts. Much of this is allowed by the ministers themselves when they become slaves to the church they work for by allowing them to dictate their priorities and obligations. Even our text mentions many times, “ministers view themselves as slaves to laity expectations.” This is nothing more than an unbalanced obligation that needs to be put back in order immediately before causing permanent damage.
There is however, also an ethical and moral obligation to the lay people from a minister’s point of view. We must maintain respect and trust among the people who we serve. We also must maintain our moral character and integrity. Our text mentions, “As laypeople have become more knowledgeable, they have become more critical of professional practice. Public disclosures of malpracticing physicians, incompetent lawyers, and mis-guided ministers have increased society’s skepticism.” To prevent hiccups along the way morally and ethically, it is important for everyone to remember as our text says, “Ministers are people before they are ministers.” The shepherds are not perfect and neither are their sheep. This is why we must maintain our balance of priorities and obligations. Just as with any other situation that may arise, moral failure is always the result of a breakdown in priority order. I could say that ministers are teachers of the Word and should always have it on the mind, but this is not the only solution to moral and ethical issues all by itself. Our text also points this out saying, “Yet simply saying ‘follow the Bible’ does not solve all our moral questions. Some ethical issues, such as divorce and war, seem both to be condoned and condemned in Scripture.” To remain true to our God and our calling, we must learn to lean on Him in times of testing. This is why our relationship with God is so vital. Our text says, “As Christ is the pattern for morality, the Spirit is the power that makes Christian living possible (Rom. 8:13–14).” I like what a text says about factors regarding our obligations.
Our text gives us six obligation factors:
4.) Spiritual Growth
5.) The Minister’s Family Life
6.) Managing Money
7.) Practicing What You Preach
8.) Sexual Conduct
While this list is awesome and inclusive, I would like to add my own overall list:
1.) Relationship With God (includes spiritual growth)
2.) Family (includes taking care of family needs over church needs)
4.) Community (Outreach and Service)
Based on Luke 10:25-37, who is your neighbor and what do you find most challenging about loving your neighbor as yourself? What do you think God might be trying to teach you?
Luke 10:25-37 (KJV)25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Jesus says in Luke 10:25 to “an expert in the law” who questioned him about who his neighbor was, by basically answering the question with a question. Jesus knew the intention of the man’s heart and it wasn’t regarding whether the man lived next door or in the next country, but rather who he was “legally” obligated to love as Jesus commanded. The legalists of Jesus’ day were bound by their view of law and tradition, so much so that they missed out on the greatest love that ever walked our planet. Jesus was thorough to point out that not only did regular people pass by the man, but a priest, Levite, and then a Samaritan. Many of the most holy and blessed people you will ever meet never held office in a church, but are willing to be the hands and feet of Christ. By pointing out the variety of not just racial differences, but also social differences, Jesus was essentially explaining to the man who his neighbor was without saying it outright. He spoke in such ways so that if a person who was seeking the truth they would find it, but men asking questions just to trip Jesus up would miss the meaning every time. It was socially unacceptable for a Jew at that time to have any conversation with a Samaritan who was seen as essentially “unclean”. The only one who eventually helps the man of the parable was a Samaritan and certainly took good care of him, even taking responsibility for the resources used to do so. The man was offering to go into debt for the injured man with no guarantee of repayment. This is the blind and unconditional love that Jesus wants the man asking the question to picture; the love that has no strings attached and without an ulterior motive; the love that crosses all boundaries and barriers to care for another.
The neighbor as Jesus is in so many words answering, is simply anyone who is in need of helping. This help may be physical, mental, emotion, or spiritual. It may be local, it may be afar. No matter the circumstances we are to love our neighbors. For most of us, this is a challenge. No matter where we are raised or how, almost everyone has someone or some type of people that they fear or despise to deal with. A military brat may have had bad experiences growing up, so they may want to avoid dealing with military personnel. A man who grew up in a nice neighborhood may try to avoid being a blessing to the poor man from the inner-city. A religious person may not like to deal with people who grew up very different and rough around the edges, however all of these examples are our neighbor. Right now, many people in America don’t like dealing with Arab people or even anyone resembling that ethnicity. They really go negative when you mention the name “Islam”, which is certainly the product of media and politics. They fear these things and people because they are ignorant of the truth that Christ loves us all. We are commanded by him as the body of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This includes the man next door, the foreign religion, the unfamiliar culture, and anyone you come into contact with who is human. The most important thing that I get from this parable is the fact that like God tells us in Genesis 1:27 we are all created in “the image of God” and because we are all created in His image, we are all worth saving as neighbors.
Ethical Principles and Christian Values
For centuries the book of Jonah has been not only used as a children’s Sunday school lesson, but also as a practical example of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiving love. While these are excellent points to ponder and teach upon, what does this Old Testament legend have to say about our ethics as followers of Christ and ministers for the God the book represents? Upon reasearch, I have found that many others have also asked these very questions. This essay will reflect upon the disconnection between Jonah’s faith and actions, what happens when Christian leaders cease to live by the call to love God and their neighbors, the struggle for Christian leaders to act on what God calls them to do during seasons of ministry, how my ethics have been shaped by the tough seasons in my own life and the role God has played in the process, and two significant ethical principles the book of Jonah can inform our ethics and values as a leader when engaging other ethical dilemmas.
The Disconnection Between Jonah’s Faith and Actions
For most scholars, Jonah’s behavior is mind boggling and does not make logical sense when compared to other prophets of the Old Testament. Some scholars even refer to Jonah as an “anti-prophet”. While his actions were surely rebellious and disobedient in nature, it does not appear that Jonah means any harm towards the will of God or His people. For a prophet in his time period of Israel; it seems that Jonah either lacks the faith that God can change the hearts of foreign men, the hearts of his own people, or fears what may become of him as a result. Hayyim Angel mentions that, “Alternatively, one could say that Jonah, as a prophet of Israel, sees the idolatrous ways of his people. If gentlies repent, then the Isrealites will look worse by contrast.” Another disconnection that could be pointed out is Jonah’s priority of his nation over another and even over God. Hayyim Angel says later that, “In addition to its omore obvious messages, Jonah teaches that each person must take an active role in his or her life, trying to uncover the truth regarding one’s motiviation and promoting justice even where doing so is destructive to oneself or one’s nation.” For a man of the Faith, Jonah surely lacks the understanding and possibly the substance of faith itself judging by his actions within the book. Rob Barrett says, “While the Ninevites exhibit no resistance to changing their behavior in the face of threat, Jonah persists in his resistance to YHWH regardless of threat.” It was obvious that Jonah believed that even in his rebellion he was heaven worthy, thus not fearing death and preferring it over this calling. He even seemed to believe that God would somehow be pleased by his death due to his rebellion, despite God’s call on his life.
What Happens When Christian Leaders Cease to Live by the Call to Love God and Their Neighbors
When Christian leaders fail to live by the the call to love God and their neighbor, it causes a huge disruption in that leaders life, the world around them, and those who God has called that leader to serve. The failure to live by the call surely sparks a chain reaction. It is the equivalent of gas engine in a car with malfunctioning spark plugs. Without the spark, the whole system is disrupted. In order for God to fix that situation, He either has to replace that plug (leader) or fix him/her. Fixing a leader can often be a long and grueling process, as many of today’s leaders are about as stubborn as Jonah himself. Jonah’s stubborness is even pointed out by Hayyim Angel regarding Jonah’s absence of the fear of God by saying, “Jonah does not fear as do the sailors; he sees himself on a higher plane of knowledge.” Rina Sadun points out the similarities between the story of the flood and Jonah, which is complemented by the repentance of the massses rather than their rejection. They change the path of their morality therefore change God’s decision regarding their fate. When this happens, many horrible things are the result of these actions. Failing to live by the call and love God means that we perish as leaders. Followers of Christ also fall because we are placed in charge of providing the supervision and structure that they trust leaders with. God’s people perish as a result of our failure to love God and set that example of leadership. Those who God instructs us to lead, witness to, instruct, teach, etc all perish due to our disobidience.
The Struggle for Christian Leaders to Act On What God Calls Them to Do During Seasons of Ministry
The struggle for Christian leaders to first get into God’s will, then to stay in His will are among one of the toughest jobs for leaders. While the followers of Christ are losing their faith, quitting the church, fighting against all decisions, and refusing to do His will; God is demanding that we must. This can be difficult because as the Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the spiritual wickedness in high places.” Perhaps, this is a season in which Jonah is seeking to settle down in life and cease risky and uncomfortable behavior, however God’s will and call are rarely comfortable. Given the need to accompany His will, God stretches our comfort zones and brings us out of places of familiarity such as He has asked of Jonah in this instance. Even in his rebellion, Jonah is given multiple exaples of leadership ethics and how to love his neighbors, including many from the ships crew. Etan Levine says, “Only as a last resort, after the lot falls on Jonah, after the lot falls on Jonah, after he himself confesses to being the case of the storm, after he tells them to throw him to the waves, and after they exhause themselves trying to reach shore by their own efforts, do they finally throw him overboard (1:8-15).” However, many academics disagee regarding the regularity of disobedience of God’s calling. Rina Sadun points out, “It is quite common for prophets to verbally refuse God’s call.” However, as Hayyim Angel points out, “The most astonishing feature of chapter two occurs at its outset: Jonah waits three entire days inside the fish before praying!” No matter how defiant we are regarding God’s will for our lives, if He so disires, we will be broken. The bigger question is not if, but rather by what means and how long will it take? For Jonah, it was being thrown out to sea, swallowed by a “great fish”, and remaining in this empending doom three days before repenting and surrendering to God’s call.
How My Ethics Have Been Shaped By the Tough Seasons In My Own Life and the Role God Has Played In The Process
Just as there have been many tough seasons in my life, there were many issues God has had to tolerate from me in order to be where I am today. I am only worthy of death and suffering for the many sins I have committed in my past life and nothing seperates me from those trespasses except the blood poured out on Calvary. Like Jonah, I have been through my seasons of running away from God. First it was by rebellion, then running from my calling. Most recently, it has been the opposite issues. Instead of running away from my calling, I have rushed God into making His will for my life come to pass based on what I have thought of it to be. The problem is that God will simply not be rushed into anything. He is on His own timing, not ours. God has had to remain patient with me and allow me to go through seasons of both suffering and joy to learn the character of God. This has influenced how I not only percieve God’s words spoke into my life, but also how I percieve the world around me.
In the midst of those tough seasons, God’s role is to sustain and keep us as believers. If there is one thing I could say regarding the role God has played in the process of shaping me and my personal ethics, I would have to admit that He has surely been the patient “potter” because this old clay is rather grainy. There have been and still are, many spots that He has had to work with me to get out, to make me the vessel that I am today. Although I am far from perfect, I have surely come a long way from where I was. Just as God sustained Jonah with life in the belly of the “great fish” and with the shade of a plant during the heat of the day, we are sustained by God even in our unbelief in God’s will for our life. When we fail to act according to His will, the root cause for this is we do not trust Him with our life. Whether you are a missionary who fails to act on your calling due to not knowing the technicalities how you will reach the lost, or a Sunday School teacher who feels they do not know the Bible well enough to teach, the root cause is trust. Will we trust Him enough with the calling He has given us? The King of Nineveh was willing to trust God more than even Jonah himself as Rob Barret points out saying,”The king cedes authroity to Jonah’s God by exchanging his sings of authority for those of repentance.” The king did not consult his advisors of whether or not the people would lose respect or if he would lose power based on such an action being taken, he just trusted on God to take his sins and forgive him. Like this king, I am trusting God to do what His will calls for in my life and I do not wish to stand in the way, but I have only learned this through the tough seasons of suffering due to my own mistakes.
Two Significant Ethical Principles the Book of Jonah Can Inform Our Ethics and Values as a Leader When Engaging Other Ethical Dilemmas.
The first and in my opinion, the most important ethical principle that I have learned from the book of Jonah that informs our ethics and values as a ldeader when engaging other ethical dilemmas, has to be God’s will. Above all other things in this world, we must expect to have “thy will on earth as it is in heaven.” I have come to learn and realize not only through life experiences, but also from stories such as the one found in Jonah, that God’s will always prevails no matter the circumstances. We may try to do things our way and they enemy may try it as well, but God can even take the curcumstances of life and flip them to play into His will being done. The question of how it will look on and for us is, did we stand in the way or did we get out of His way? When I pray for a request that has been given to me by another believer, usually within the first three lines of my prayer, I pray that God’s will be done regardless of what the request is because His will should always be the focus in our life. His will should be the most significant aspect of our life, so much so that if it meant His will to be our death for Him to be glorified as many of the disciples suffered, so be it. Sandy Habib understood this principle well when she said, “Going against God does not lead anyone to any place of comfort; disobeying God can mean one thing; a constant succession of spiritual descents, which can have an effect on other aspects of the life of that person.”
The second significant ethical principle that can be drawn from the story of Jonah is that God will use whoever and whatever means He so chooses to go about doing His will. Just as His will always prevails, God’s chosen method and chosen vessel always prevails. There are times when God decides that He has had enough of a person’s disobedience and moves on to a new follower who desires to see His will come about, but many times this is not the case. God will often take that broken vessel, molding them into who He needs them to be, and fulfilling His will through them all for His glory. This was a common theme throughout many of the articles that I have read regarding the Jonah story. Rina Sadun states while comparing the story of Jonah to Noah, “But herein lifes the primary difference: while Noah, who follows God’s instructions to the letter, manages to rescue only his family and a handful of the earth’s animals, Jonah’s drudging call for repentance resolves the situation without a single life being lost, in one of the Hebrew Bible’s most dramatic instances of divine mercy.” Etan Levine also states regarding the lack of genuine remorse of Jonah that, “he makes no admission of wrong nor plea for forgiveness, In sum, there is no spiritual conversion or reconcilliation. Jonah is coerced by God, not convinced.” Regardless of how remorseful, pessimistic, without faith, or understanding of God’s actions that Jonah was, God was determined to use him to bring about His will for the people of Nineveh. I have seen instances and heard stories of both unwilling, willing vessels, and items that God has used to bring His will to past. From using the staff of Moses, to the unwilling bodies of men, God’s will always previals.
Whether you are a seasoned minister or serving laymember, my prayer is that Jonah’s story will inspire you to act upon God’s will in a tactiful manner. We have observed the disconnection between Jonah’s faith and actions, seen what happens when Christian leaders cease to live by the call to love God and their neighbors, witnessed the struggle of Christian leaders in different seasons of ministry act upon God’s call, seen the ways Jonah’s disobedience was part of his ethical development, seen how my own ethics have been shaped by the tough seasons in my life, discussed what God’s role in the middle of those tough learning seasons and how they have shaped my ehtical principles, and stated the two significant ethical principles the book of Jonah can inform our ethics and values as a leader when enganging other ehtical dilemmas. Regardless of our views and opinoins of Jonah, there is much to be learned regarding from this famous prophet and his journey in the belly of a whale.
Angel, Hayyim, “The Book of Jonah: A Call to Personal Responsibility,” Tradition 30, no. 1 (September 1995):56-67. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed August 29, 2017).
Barrett, Rob, “Meaning More than They Say: The Conflict between YHWH and Jonah,” Journal For The Study of The Old Testament 37, no. 2 (December 2012): 237-257, accessed August 29, 2017. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
Evine, Etan, “Justice In Judaism: The Case of Jonah,” The Review of Rabbinic Judaism 5, No. 2 (2002): 170-197, accessed August 28, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
Habib, Sandy, “Who Converts Whom?: A Narrative-Critical Exegesis of the Book of Jonah,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 44, no. 2 (May 2014): 67-75, accessed August 29, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
Sadun, Rina, “Sometimes, Everyone Lives: Jonah and the Genesis Flood Story,” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa 38, no. 2 (September 2014): 1-12, accessed August 29, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
 Hayyim Angel, “The Book of Jonah: A Call to Personal Responsibility,” Tradition 30, no. 1 (September 1995):57. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed August 29, 2017).
 Angel, “The Book of Jonah: A Call to Personal Responsibility,” 58.
 Ibid. 66.
 Rob Barrett, “Meaning More than They Say: The Conflict between YHWH and Jonah,” Journal For The Study of The Old Testament 37, no. 2 (December 2012): 242, accessed August 29, 2017. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
 Ibid. 59.
 Rina Sadun, “Sometimes, Everyone Lives: Jonah and the Genesis Flood Story,” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa 38, no. 2 (September 2014): 1, accessed August 29, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
 The Holy Bible, KJV unless otherwise noted.
 Etan Evine, “Justice In Judaism: The Case of Jonah,” The Review of Rabbinic Judaism 5, No. 2 (2002): 175, accessed August 28, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost
 Sadun, “Sometimes, Everyone Lives: Jonah and the Genesis Flood Story,” 6.
 Ibid. 60.
 Barrett, “Meaning More than They Say: The Conflict between YHWH and Jonah, 241
 Sandy Habib, “Who Converts Whom?: A Narrative-Critical Exegesis of the Book of Jonah,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 44, no. 2 (May 2014): 70, accessed August 29, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
 Ibid, 1.
 Evine, “Justice In Judaism: The Case of Jonah,” 175.
There is one line of Scripture that tells us everything that we ought to know regarding the wisdom and “having the mind of Christ” and that is verse 10 where Paul says, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” According to God’s Holy Word, If we lack understanding it is because it has not been revealed to us through His Spirit. This is why many times we can read a Scripture one year, come back the next and it reveals something completely different than it did the first time reading it. This is why we can receive a Word from the man of God and become enlightened to new truths regarding the Gospel. The possibilities behind the power of God’s revelation through His Spirit are endless. Revelation often comes through God’s Word more often than any other way. This is why it is imperative from believers to read God’s Word for themselves daily. The answers and truth we seek lay right in the pages of our Bibles. The character, morals, and integrity that we seek to build is built from the foundations of God’s Word planted into our hearts. Paul doesn’t speak in this instance or write under his own power, but in the respect and reverence of the Lord. Power isn’t given such as is described in verse 4, unless it has been given by the Spirit. The Spirit does not connect so deeply with man that does not seek Him.
So what does this have to do with “having the mind of Christ” you might ask? The answer is: everything! Everything that has been stated in chapter two up until verse 16, gives us an explanation for this verse. “Having the mind of Christ”, is simply knowing the will of the Father. If we know the will of our Heavenly Father, then we can “have the mind of Christ.” Having such understanding begins with being obedient to God’s Word and Spirit. If we are obedient, we will do the will of the Lord. If we do the will of the Lord, He will give us the directions we seek. It is said in one of our articles that, “Another way in which one can easily fall short of full virtue is through lacking phronesis—moral or practical wisdom.” The way for a Christian not to fall short is to simply have, “the mind of Christ”. If we look at the example of the life Christ lived, the actions He took, the decisions He made, and the things He said we find the answer in what it means to “have the mind of Christ.” Everything He did was according to the will of the Father. Even the Lord’s prayer includes the words, “your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” early on in the prayer for a reason. Jesus pleaded for another way to accomplish the task set before Him to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, but in the end submitted to the Father’s will. So, much like Jesus did all that was humanly possible to do the Father’s will while here on earth, we must do the same. We are to have not only the evidence of Christ in our life, but also the mind and heart of Christ. The more Christ-like we are, the closer we are to being in His will. We must remember that like Christ, we are all born with a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is crystal clear and direct, other times we must thoroughly seek it in various ways.
One of the things that sticks out the most about Christ to me in all His ministry, was His focus on the priorities. All through school I struggled to focus in class as I still find myself struggling with, however Jesus never fell away from the focus on the task at hand. Even though He knew the suffering He would soon endure, He remained focused with laser like precision. He did not find Himself distracted by the games of the Pharisees. He was even tested with political questions to test His political I.Q. as Christians are today, and had a quick, but very wise answer to the problem presented. He was even crucified over the political threat that He was said to be, but never allowed it to distract Him from the will of the Father. If we can be like that we can have the mind of not only Christ, but also of the Father.
 Hursthouse, Rosalind and Pettigrove, Glen, "Virtue Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
In what ways does Paul draw the distinction between human wisdom and the wisdom of God? How does it relate to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25?
Since the first recordings of reflections by mankind, we can see evidence of our thoughts regarding our morality, character, and wisdom. From the ancient Egyptians, Native Americans, and even from the Israelites themselves these questions have dominated the thoughts of men. Unfortunately for man, we have often placed our lack of wisdom on full display. This is evident in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and throughout the theme of both Testaments of the Bible. Our humanly lack of wisdom is also very evident in our ability to follow the salvation plan of God through the law in the Old Covenant and also today as evident by the many lost souls that walk our planet today. Of course, we can all agree that man is the most intelligent, unique, special, and chosen creation of God. So why do we fail at making the most basic decisions? The answer is complicated, but my best guess is perspective. Everything about us is affected by perspective. How we think, feel, understand, process, learn, and even our personality development is shaped by perspective. I believe what God is pointing out through the Apostle Paul here in this section of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 is that God is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-present (omnipresent).
Our text points out the human weakness of flesh by saying, “Whereas bodily experiences are only momentary and fleeting, the powers of memory and anticipation elongate mental experiences. Hence, physical pleasure may provide momentary enjoyment. But when the sensation ends, the mental pain that arises from the withdrawal of the pleasurable experience often surpasses the pleasure itself.” The author is pointing out man’s flaw of acting upon the senses, rather than relying upon the conviction of such a powerful God as our own. Even though many times after experience we know sub-consciously what the outcome will be (further pain), we pursue the desire of our flesh anyway. However, when we are born-again, we gain a new sense of conviction that warns us of our bad decisions or actions. This conviction and necessity for us to follow the will of God is foreign to the unbeliever. Paul points this out in verse 18 by saying, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Paul continues by pointing out the great and perfect wisdom of God. Man has continually made efforts to achieve this perfected wisdom and duplicate it; however the greatness of God can never be achieved by man as Paul points out in verse 20. Wisdom is based in making sound decisions according to the usage of this word and our decisions are direct reflection of our morals, values, and character. Because believers have a solid ground in Christ that we gain our morals and values from, we can stand firm in our character which is insured by the Holy Spirit.
While the work of great philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato can teach us a great deal, nothing can replace the wisdom and guidance of our all-powerful God. Many times, their wisdom and thoughts are based on the natural and not the supernatural. Our lecture points out the valuable contributions of both these men by saying, “Plato and Aristotle advanced one of the most enduring philosophical contributions to contemporary thought and discussions about the nature, process, and end of moral formation.” Our text gives us an example of this by pointing out the beliefs of Zeno the Semite and son of a Phoenician by saying, “He believed that reality is rational, for nature is governed by the laws of reason.” Even our lecture points out their reliance upon man made virtues by saying, “Both Plato and Aristotle advanced a virtue-based approach to moral formation; however, Aristotle, Plato's most celebrated student, regarded ‘the ethical virtues’ (e.g., justice, courage, temperance) as complex rational, emotional, and social skills.”
 Stanley J. Grenz, The Moral Quest: Foundations of Christian Ethics (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1997), 77, accessed August 15th, 2017, GCU database
 Grand Canyon University, “Character, Virtue, and the Ethical Formation of a Leader” (lecture 1, Ministerial Ethics, Grand Canyon University, 2016). https://lc.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/user/users.html
 Grenz, The Moral Quest: Foundations of Christian Ethics. 80
 Grand Canyon University, “Character, Virtue, and the Ethical Formation of a Leader”