THE WISDOM OF men is the kind of worldly wisdom that more or less all men have been living by since the cave man. It is best exemplified by such homely utterances as You've got your own life to lead, Business is business, Charity begins at home, Don't get involved, God helps those who help themselves, Safety first, and so forth.
Although this wisdom can lead on occasion to ruthlessness and indifference, it is by no means incompatible with Niceness, as the life of anyone apt to read (or write) a book like this bears witness. A man can be basically interested in nothing so much as feathering his own nest and still give generously to the Cancer Fund, be on the Board of Deacons, run for town office, and have a soft spot in his heart for children and animals.
It is in contrast to all this that what St. Paul calls "the foolishness of God" looks so foolish. Inspection stickers used to have printed on the back "Drive carefully—the life you save may be your own." That is the wisdom of men in a nutshell.
What God says, on the other hand, is "The life you save is the life you lose." In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself, and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living. To bring his point home, God shows us a man who gave his life away to the extent of dying a national disgrace without a penny in the bank or a friend to his name. In terms of men's wisdom, he was a Perfect Fool, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without making something like the same kind of a fool of himself is laboring under not a cross but a delusion.
There are two kinds of fools in the world: damned fools and what St. Paul calls "fools for Christ's sake."
- Originally published in Wishful Thinking