The Power of a Question

The power of questions

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Every elementary child learns these six foundational questions. Questions are  useful, diverse, and powerful tools  in communication.  Some question types are:

  • Information questions request additional information. These are the most common types e.g. How was your week?
  • Rhetorical questions provoke thought without expecting an answer. e.g. Are you kidding me?
  • Validation questions reveal the listeners understanding(or willingness to be honest) because you already know the answer.
  • Leading  questions direct the conversation
  • Internal question stimulate your inner dialogue
  • Closed questions require a short answer, e.g. What color is your car?
  • Open questions require an extended explanation, e.g. Why did you choose to become a dentist?
  • Relationship questions express an interest in somebody by finding out about their interests and background, e.g. if you meet somebody that is a beekeeper.  “I know nothing about beekeeping. Why do you like beekeeping?”

The bible is a rich source of questions utilizing the above reasons and more. This study explores how God’s word utilizes questions.

The first question in the bible (Genesis 3:1) is a statement and not a question. The first question in the bible is asked by God in Genesis 3:9

9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?

Adam committed treason by disobeying God’s only commandment. God asks Adam “Where are you?”. This is a validation question because God knew the answer. This question is the subject of the Old Testament. The focus is on man and where his thoughts lie.

In Matthew chapter 2, King Herod askedd the first question in the New Testament.

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

“Where is he?” is the focus of the New Testament. Where is Jesus Christ in your life? This is the pivotal question. I’m not interested in what church you attend, your ministry work, worship music that you enjoy, the preacher that you listened to, or any of the other activities involved in being a Christian. I intently listen for what place Jesus Christ and the Word of God resides in your life. The rest of these things are important but they pale in comparison.

In Matthew 5 Jesus addresses love and hypocrisy.

38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

This is the world’s law of rigid justice.

39 But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

“Resist not evil” means not to fight evil with evil. This is in contrast to “ an eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth” from the previous verse. exact justice by getting even.

40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.

I don’t think that this means that Christians should never go to court or defend a lawsuit, but to have a heart of generosity that is not provoked to get even. Pursuing justice is right, revenge is wrong.

41 And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away.

Exceed expectations. Be generous in giving.

43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;

This is not about letting your enemies take advantage of you. Do not let your heart be hardened by unfair and harsh treatment. We are called to love those that hate and despise us.

45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are called to reach the lost, broken, abused and hateful because God loves them and wants them to be part of his family. This can only be accomplished by being born again and realizing that Christ is returning.

46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Loving those that love you is the way of the world. If we only fellowship with our friends and brothers then we are not demonstrating the love of God. Even thieves and crooks are loyal to their friends.

48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The crowning point of this section is to grow up to full maturity even as God is full mature.

Jesus uses the questions in verses 46  to 47 to demonstrate agape love instead of phileo love. Phileo love is conditional based on some quality that you like in the other person e.g. physically attractive, talent, likes the

music, movies or sports. Agape love is unconditional based on the new nature received in the new birth. Agape love is the love of God in action.

Questions are a  rich form of communication. Have fun with the following process.

  1. Ask an insightful question.
  2. Keep your mouth shut.
  3. Listen intently.
  4. Repeat.
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