November 19, 2011

Avoid Foolish Questions

The title of this post speaks to two things. One is that I’ve been deeply affected by people who ask foolish questions, and two, I have been asking them myself.

Those who ask questions that have either no answers, or they will not accept the answers given, are what my husband calls “high maintenance” people. Like the child on a trip who continually harps, “Are we there yet?” they test the patience of everyone around them. Not only that, they spoil the trip.

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9–11)
These verses speak strongly about the trouble caused in the church by foolish questions, but for me today, I want to think about the foolish questions that I ask God. They fall into a couple of categories.

Sometimes I ask God to do things that He has already promised to do. For instance, every time I say, “Lord, be with me” I am ignoring the fact that He has promised to “never leave or forsake” me. Far better to thank Him that He is here than act and ask as if I am not paying attention.

Sometimes I ask God about issues for which He has already given His answer. One example is when I ask about the topic for the next Bible study. Sometimes, after He makes the answer clear, I begin to second-guess Him and ask again. That is a lack of faith in what He said, and it tends to pull my fleshy ‘wisdom’ into the picture. I want the answer to make sense to me. However, I am just being rude to God.

Another foolish question is asking God about the spiritual life of someone else. My relationship with Him is not about other people. He rarely gives me anything about others. I am to walk with Him in perfect obedience. If I do that, then how I interact with others will be correct, without me knowing their situation and needing to figure out how I should behave concerning them. This involves listening to the Holy Spirit and doing what He says, not needing to know everything about everything.

Often my foolish questions are about the way the world is run. I know that God is sovereign. I also know that human beings can make a royal mess of things. I am one of them. When the evening news breaks my heart, I can see that sin is at the root of what is happening. However, asking God “Why?” insinuates that He is at the root of it. Instead of foolish questions, serious prayer ought to come out of my mouth. When I pray, God answers. He may even send me to be part of the answer. When I ask questions, I am eroding my own faith.

Spurgeon has wise advice concerning questions. He says there are some questions which are the reverse of foolish and not to be avoided. He gives a few examples. Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Savior? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

These questions more urgently demand my attention rather than asking for answers from God or from anyone else. If my analytical and critical abilities are given to questions like this, God is pleased and I will profit. Spurgeon also changes me to be instead a peacemaker who pours my energy into leading others by precept and example — to trust God and avoid foolish questions.

Father, You know what foolish questions have put me through this week, not my own, but those asked by people who have stirred up strife in the asking. I see the harm in that, but also the harm in the way that I often question You. I can chip away at my own faith by wanting to know things You have either already told me, or that are none of my business. I’m to trust You, not demand answers that would enable me to walk by “information” instead of by faith. Deepen my grasp of this truth and help me walk in it as a good example.

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