What Are the Right Questions?

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What Are the Right Questions?

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"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." So said English writer G.K. Chesterton.

The Bible witnesses the truth of this statement. God wanted ancient Israel to be a model nation, exemplifying the blessings that result from obedience to His laws. He specifically instructed the Israelites to educate their children in His ways, generation after generation.

Many centuries removed from ancient Israel, the incredible value of learning remains apparent today. God says that right education is the basis of productivity, prosperity and peace. What can we do to gain the full benefits of right education?

We can ask the right questions—the one aspect of learning over which we alone have complete control. Thomas J. Watson Sr., former president of IBM, summarized, "The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer."

In his book about gaining understanding in the information age, author Richard Saul Wurman devotes an entire chapter to the importance of asking questions:

"There is a Danish proverb that the one who is afraid of asking questions is ashamed of learning. Questions can enlighten our world, expand our understanding of the universe, and help us assess what we know and what we don't know" (Information Anxiety 2, 2000, p. 127).

Jesus taught that we should be like little children (Matthew 18:3-4 Matthew 18:3-4 [3] And said, Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [4] Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×
). Young children have no fear of asking questions. That harmful apprehension seems to assert itself as we grow up. "Children are the masters at the spontaneous global questions for which there are no easy answers. Their appetite for acquiring information is far greater than their need to appear informed" (ibid.).

Mr. Wurman continued, "Socrates was the first teacher to use questions as a way to bring in-depth answers from his students… A real teacher isn't someone who asks the questions and lets you discover the answers. A real teacher is someone who helps you formulate your own questions" (ibid., p. 128).

Though he was remarkably insightful, Socrates was not the first teacher to use questions as instruction. Long before the ancient Greek philosopher developed the Socratic method (a method of teaching by asking questions, such as who, what, where, why and how), God used challenging questions to teach people about Himself, about themselves and about life.

  • "Who told you that you were naked?"—when Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:11 Genesis 3:11And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • "What are you doing here, Elijah?"—after His otherwise fearless prophet had fled to the wilderness because Queen Jezebel threatened his life (1 Kings 19:13 1 Kings 19:13And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him, and said, What do you here, Elijah?
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"—in response to the great patriarch Job's argument that God had been unfair to him (Job 38:4 Job 38:4Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?"—when Jesus challenged the religious people of His day—and ours (Luke 6:46 Luke 6:46And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?"—when Christ drew our attention to our tendency to hypocrisy (Matthew 7:4 Matthew 7:4Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
    American King James Version×
    ).

God often uses questions to teach us His ways—the basis of true education and success. His Word helps us formulate our own questions about the meaning and purpose of life and leads us to the awe-inspiring answers.

To help you ask the right questions and find the right answers, request or download your free copy of How to Understand the Bible and improve your true education. VT

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