[I] did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. —1 Corinthians 2:1
When I was a kid, I learned a big word that was fun to pronounce: “antidisestablishmentarianism.” What a mouthful! I recently took the time to look it up. The dictionary defines it as “the doctrine or political position that opposes the withdrawal of state recognition of an established church.”
The definition is almost as difficult as the term itself. Neither I nor my school friends knew what it meant. But using the big word made me look knowledgeable.
When the apostle Paul ministered to people, he didn’t try to impress others. In his letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: “When I came to you, [I] did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God” (1 Cor. 2:1). “Excellence of speech” is the translation of Greek words meaning “high-sounding words” or “pompous speech.” This implies using words to exalt self instead of to instruct others. Paul was a brilliant scholar who expressed the deep things of God in Scripture. Yet he did not use lofty language to elevate his self-importance.
As we grow in our understanding of God’s Word, let’s follow Paul’s example and guard against parading knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Instead, let’s use well-chosen words that build up and encourage others.
The words we speak may indicate
A heart that’s filled with pride;
But godly self-control displays
The Spirit’s work inside. —Sper
It’s not the words we know that show wisdom,
but how and when we use them.