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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wrong Questions Yield Wrong Answers

Think of a time in your life when you have gotten the wrong answer because you asked the wrong question. Silly you, what happened? When did you finally wake up and fly right? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 748).

Without going into specifics, let me share with you some of the wrong questions that I have asked in my life. Clearly, asking the wrong questions is not only common, but has had a profound effect on personal as well as national life.
  • How can I be like him? – Not, how can I be myself?
  • What will bring me the most income and status (security)? – Not, what will bring me the most fulfillment?
  • How can I not be embarrassed in this situation? – Not, what is the most loving, loyal thing to do?
  • Why am I being humiliated? – Not, how can I show more humility and loving kindness?
  • Will I be inconvenienced? – Not, how can I show compassion and helpfulness?
  • What are the weaknesses of this person? – Not, what are the strengths of this person?
  • What have they done for me? – Not, what have I done for them?
  • How can they better show their love for me? – Not, how can I better show my love for them?
  • Why am I so dumb and unsuccessful? – Not, why do I insist on asking all the wrong questions?
  • How should the most powerful nation on earth act in this situation? Not, what is the right thing for our country to do?
  • I would borrow a question asked in the 19th century: how dare they oppose our keeping slaves? – Not, how does “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” apply not just to me but to all humanity?
  • What is the patriotic thing to do? – Not, what is the right thing to do?
  • How dare these little people oppose us? – Not, how do things look from their point of view?
  • How can I just get by? – Not, how can I excel?
  • What's in it for me? – Not, how can I best serve?
  • Why can't they be different? Not – what qualities do they have to which I am blind? How can I be different?
  • What is my will? Not – what is God's will?
  • How can I advance my short-term interest? – Not, how can I advance my long-term interest?
  • Why am I so weak and awkward? – Not, what are my strengths, and do I have the courage to develop them?
  • How can I find total security in all things? – Not, what matters more to me than fear?
  • How can I hang onto the past? Not, how can I bring the past into fulfillment and fruition?
  • How can I be oblivious to my own mortality? – Not, how do I most meaningfully acknowledge my own mortality?
  • How can I not change? – Not, how can I best accept change?
  • How do I avoid admitting a mistake? – Not, how can I be more gracious and generous in facing facts?
Wrong questions as a rule arise from fear and resultant defensiveness. Wrong questions often come from attempting to allay our fears by framing them within a neat and manageable “reality” – that is, fiction, of our own. In this sense, wrong questions flow from an ingrained selfishness. Better questions begin to flow when we focus on God's loving will for us, and when we acquire the will and generosity to freely do it. At any age, this represents a quantum leap in maturity. The Bible speaks of this freedom from fear: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NIV).

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