Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.
I’ve never been accused of being a woman of few words, especially if you ask my teenagers lately. I often find myself exasperated while preaching diatribes in an effort to help my kids stop fighting, be kind, and take personal responsibility. Sometimes I talk until I’m blue in the face with very little behavior change accompanying it.
While Jesus was quite vocal when teaching God’s Word at different times, He often asked questions and listened as much as He talked. Something stood out to me about Jesus’s words in John 8 regarding the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t use many. He wrote in the sand (boy I would like to know what He wrote!), and then He made one statement, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Finally, He asked the woman a question, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” Then He made one simple statement that carried a lot of teaching in it, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
As I read through Scripture, I find Jesus asking questions a lot. He is the God of the universe who knows everything, and yet He asked things like:
- Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matthew 6:27
- Do you believe I can do this? Matthew 9:28
- Why did you doubt? Matthew 14:31
- But who do you say that I am? Matthew 16:15
- Did you never read the Scriptures? Matthew 21:42
These are just a few recorded in Matthew’s gospel of the hundreds of questions Jesus asked over His three year ministry span. Last week we called a family meeting in our home and asked this question, “What is one thing you’d like to be different about what goes on in our family?”
Each child answered differently. One thought people should not leave their stuff all over the house. Another had a concern over morning bathroom usage. We could all agree when someone mentioned the unkindness expressed in our interactions. One child spoke up that they felt like many rules were unfair. (Shocker)
Why ask such a question? Because rather than preach at them about many of these issues, asking the question brought about dialogue, brainstorming solutions together, and better learning. Now of course we didn’t resolve all these issues in a twenty minute family meeting. However, we are working on them. We are all more aware of what is bugging the others, and we will continue to ask questions and attempt to listen, knowing we can’t solve every problem. Asking questions brings us closer in relationship and helps us discover truths that sink deeper when we come to them on our own.
Here are some questions I’m going to try to implement with others in the next few weeks.
- Of all that you’ve told me, which part is the most important for me to understand?
- Why do you think that happened?
- How would you like to be treated in that situation?
We can learn from Jesus about asking more questions and using fewer words. Not only is this helpful in our families but in our workplaces, communities, and churches as well. This week I’m going to ask God for a greater awareness in all my relationships to ask good questions, listen more, and see what positive changes He might bring. I hope you’ll join me.
Dear Lord, I want to learn to listen more than I speak. Show me how to interact with others in a way that helps them dig deep to find wisdom. Reveal to me when I am talking too much and need to ask questions instead. I’m grateful that I can bring all my questions to You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Just as we have two ears and one mouth, where might God be calling you to listen twice as much as you speak? What questions could you ask to those God has called you to disciple and teach so that they might see the same situation in a different light?
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Melissa Spoelstra is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages know Christ more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of Mom’s Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover as well as three women’s Bible studies including First Corinthians, Joseph, and Jeremiah. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at www.melissaspoelstra.com.