If the sea were over the sky
Would minnows and motorboats fly?
Would each eagle you met
Be all soaking wet?
And would seals and eels always be dry?
– “If The Sea Were Over The Sky”, The Other Side of the Door, Jeff Moss
Questions, questions, questions. From the minor to the major, this life is full of questions that serve to stretch the human mind to greater heights. Beginning in childhood and on through adulthood, we all have the tendency to ask “why…how…and what if?”.
When we learn as little ones to speak and inquire, we might ask lighthearted questions, such as:
“Why is the sky blue?”
“How do airplanes stay in the sky?”
“What if I was born a prince/princess?”
Then, as we grow older, we begin to ask more significant questions. Suddenly, we want to know:
“Why am I here…what is my purpose?”
“How can I enter into a relationship with my Creator?”
“What if I could do great things in this life?”
We know that our God desires for us to be inquisitive people. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
The ability to wonder and inquire is part of what sets humans above those of the animal kingdom. A fish can not ask himself what it would be like to breathe air; a squirrel can not ask his mother for a steak instead of an acorn; and a monkey certainly can not ask how to become a christian. Only humans have this unique ability and power to seek answers.
As Voltaire was once quoted to say, “with great power comes great responsibility“. See, any fool can ask a question, but it takes a wise person to ask the right question(s). Today, we ask ourselves: what makes a question worth asking?
Sisters, questions are so vital to our life, that we must learn to even question our questions! There are three ways in which we must do this. Join me today as we study how to ask a qualified question…
# 1: The method of my questions…
In Quality or Quantity?
“Ask, and it shall be given you…for every one that asketh receiveth.”
From astronauts to archeologists, from paleontologists to medical research students; this world is full of people who thirst for knowledge. The ability to ask the right questions and keep pressing for the answers sets apart those who find success in their career versus those who are left in the dust. We can see this in the physical world of business, but the same can be said (if not abundantly more so) in a spiritual sense.
There are many who have curiosity in spades, yet do not have a proper focal point for their questions. Their questions come in quantity, but they do not come in quality. Consider a young man who wants to know what it’s like to land on the moon, yet he also wants to unveil ancient relics on foreign soil, discover an unidentified species of dinosaur, and invent a cure for the common cold. We might find his zeal admirable, but at the same time, most unrealistic. It is unlikely that one man can accomplish all these things in his lifetime (and do them well). He would be wiser to choose one or two major efforts to see to fruition, rather than try all four only to fail them all. In the end, it might be said that such a young man was:
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 3:7
In other words, he had many questions and interests, but they never really went anywhere because he had no focus. A vision divided will not prosper. Having dreams, whims, and unbound curiosity flying about in every direction (ever learning) will keep us from finding the answers to the more needful questions (knowledge of the truth). An inquiring mind is a wonderful thing to have, yet to be put to good use it must be reigned in with a good sense of direction.
We have this word from God…what we ask, we will be given. What a glorious truth that we have the ability to find answers to our questions! Yet let us not waste this gift by a lack of navigation in our inquiry. Are we focused? Are we asking the right things?
You don’t want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel. – Richard Bach, Running From Safety (1994)
Let each of us strive to pinpoint those “forever questions” in life. Questions about salvation, and purpose, and how to live a godly life – these are the most vital questions any person can ask…
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. – Titus 3:9
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith, so do. – 1 Timothy 1:4
Paul’s admonitions to Titus and Timothy still ring true today. If we focus on the trivial, we lose sight of the questions that really matter.
Let us not waste precious time asking a quantity of questions, but rather redeem our time by asking quality questions!
#2: The mood of my questions:
Of Quarter or Quarrel?
“Seek, and ye shall find…he that seeketh findeth”
You’re probably familiar with this war-related term: “no quarter”. This phrase means that under no circumstances will any mercy or kindness be shown to the opposing side. If an enemy is captured, he must be immediately put to death. He will not be given a lodging or a place to lay his weary head…literally, no “quarter” of your house is to be given as respite for the enemy. He can expect no act of compassion to be shown to him. It stands to reason that the opposite of “no quarter” is to “show quarter”. Quarter is a word of peace, an offer of friendship. A word that says “I will give place to you”.
Are you a person who offers quarter, or quarrel? Do you “give place” to others, or do you “show them who’s boss”? I have observed many a sad conversation (or shall I rather say, heated debate) where one or both parties were asking questions not to learn, but to prove a point and back the other person into a corner. What a sorry state of affairs this is! Neither person leaves edified, but at least one person generally leaves in a sour mood. It’s just. plain. foolish.
Just as “what you ask, you will be given”; what you seek, you will find. The test is…what exactly are you seeking? People ask questions with all kinds of motives. Do our questions come from an innocent desire to grow? Or from a selfish desire to bring another low? If you seek answers with a pure heart and mind, you will find them. If you seek to start a fight, that is also what you will find.
He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. – Proverbs 11:27
There is a popular phrase I have seen floating around on social media, and even hanging on the wall in many work establishments. It reads as follows:
Before you speak, THINK:
T = Is it True?
H = Is it Helpful?
I = Is it Inspiring?
N = Is it Necessary?
K = Is it Kind?
I believe the same principles can be applied in our inquiries. If our questions do not prove to be true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind, then perhaps we would do well to keep silence rather than to invite contention into our lives.
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. – 1 Timothy 6:4-5
The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. – Ecclesiastes 10:12-13
Lest we make a fool of ourselves, let each of us practice giving quarter to others, and refrain from starting a quarrel!
#3: The motive of my questions:
For Quest or Quiz?
“Knock, and it shall be opened unto you…to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Knock, and “it” shall be opened unto you. What is this “it” that will be opened? Why, the door that you’re knocking at of course! The question is, at which door are you knocking…the “door” of Heaven, or the “door” of Hell?
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know not whence ye are. – Luke 13:24-25
Is our goal to be wise in the ways of God, or merely to ace Bible Trivia? Are we like the Pharisees…only after head knowledge which serves to make us look good? Or are we after heart knowledge which comes from a true love of God? Are we on a quest, or a quiz? Every day, the questions we ask are helping to determine where our eternal home will be. We can ask, seek, and knock in the ways of the world, or the ways of God. The choice is ours.
There are various sorts of curiosity; one is from interest, which makes us desire to know that which may be useful to us; and the other, from pride which comes from the wish to know what others are ignorant of. – La Rochefoucauld, Maxims (1665)
If we are to truly “knock” on God’s door, our desire has to extend beyond learning for the sake of learning. Knowing your books of the bible doesn’t amount to a whole lot when you don’t know how to be saved. Who cares if we know how to sing “I Surrender All” without looking at the hymnal, but we haven’t really surrendered anything? Furthermore, committing the 10 commandments to memory is a pathetic excuse for Christianity when we can’t remember to show kindness to others.
Let each of us strive to be on a quest, not merely on a quiz.
Dear friend, today is the day to begin qualifying your questions. Remember to THINK before you speak, and always check whether your questions are:
- In quality or quantity…
- Of quarter or quarrel…
- For quest or quiz…
The questions we ask reveal our inner nature:
…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. – Luke 6:45
With that in mind, may we all be able to confidently say…
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. – Psalm 27:4
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.