Throughout the narrative of the Bible, God makes choices about people whom He chooses to serve Him, and He selects those individuals according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 2:2-4). In addition to God’s sovereignty, wisdom, power, and all of His other amazing attributes, He is to our astonishment, low and humble in the core of His being. So, knowing this about Him, what is His will, what is His counsel about those through whom He might choose to participate in His work in the world? Paul gave the Corinthians the answer to that question in First Corinthians 1:27-29: God chooses people who are foolish, weak, low, despised, and are nothing.

Here are BDAG’s definitions for these words:

The first word, “foolish,” is straightforward. It simply means foolish or stupid.

“Weak” is defined as “of relative ineffectiveness, whether external or inward.”

“Low” is “insignificant.”

Something that is despised is “an entity (that) has no merit or worth.” 1

“Things that are not” is uncomfortably straightforward. God chooses people who, in the eyes of the world, don’t even exist.

Why does the Lord choose such people? “…that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” Is it possible that the Lord could make it any easier for us to understand? He doesn’t want anyone—anyone—to boast about what He Himself is doing. If only it was that easy for us to understand. As soon as He chooses us, we are very prone to shift from being “nothing” to desiring to be “something.”

This truth about whom God chooses is not only in Paul’s letters. According to all of Scripture, it is evident that the powerful Lord God of the universe chooses people who are foolish, ineffective, and insignificant and have no inherent merit or worth. This is what the word of God plainly says, although we shrink back from thinking of ourselves this way. Paul tells us that He chooses such people because He wants to shame the wise and strong, so that no one would boast in His presence. In light of this, I would think that people or organizations that make claims about their strength, influence and success is something that He would especially care for. That’s too generous. He doesn’t want it in His presence at all.

So, fellow Christian brothers and sisters, welcome to the appalling fellowship of the worthless and the weak. We are people who are never to boast about themselves and their success. This means that, if you would want to be pleasing to Him, you would essentially remain unknown, unpromoted and unadvertised.

             1Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (352). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.