Christmas Thoughts: Questions or Questioning?
Christmas Thoughts: Questions or Questioning?

Christmas Thoughts: Questions or Questioning?

imageAt this time of year, the Biblical Christmas story always gets a fresh touch in my heart and mind. I’ve been thinking lately of two uniquely contrasted characters in the opening chapters of Luke. One is the righteous, God-fearing elderly priest, Zachariah, the father-to-be of John the Baptist. The other is the young single woman, Mary, the mother-to-be of Jesus. Both of them voiced a question to God:

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18 NKJV).
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34 NKJV)

Both were confronted with an outrageously miraculous thing God was about to do. Quite naturally, both used the same word to begin their question: “How…?” Though these two questions seem very similar, it is obvious by the responses they received that something behind each question was very different.
In response to Zacharias, the angel Gabriel almost seems a bit provoked as he pronounces a unique chastisement of sorts upon Zacharias:

And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time” (Luke 1:19-20 NKJV).

Mary’s question, on the other hand, received a very full and detailed explanation:

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:35-37).

I feel these two contrasting scenarios in Luke are surely written for a reason (as is everything in God’s Word!). They are not there for us to judge Zacharias or to commend Mary, but rather, for us to face an important matter of our own heart. When we are faced with strange or difficult circumstances, we, too, may find a question forming in our heart and inching its way into our mouth. Before the words bubble out, we should ask ourselves: “Am I asking a question – i.e., merely inquiring of God out of wonder and curiosity in view of His awesome sovereignty… or am I questioning – i.e., doubting, disputing, reasoning, and perhaps even faultfinding and challenging God’s wisdom in any situation that we may be facing.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” and encourages them that “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13 NKJV). Then he immediately warns them:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Phi 2:14 NKJV).

The Amplified Bible expresses it like this:

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves] (Phil 2:14 Amp).

The Message Bible says:

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! (Phil 2:14 Message).

The word “disputing” can be translated as “questioning” with a negative connotation. The Strong’s concordance tells us that the Greek word is “dialogismos”:

Strong’s G1261 – Dialogismos — discussion, i.e. (internal) consideration (by implication, purpose), or (external) debate: — dispute, doubtful(-ing), imagination, reasoning, thought. It is the thinking of a man deliberating with himself; a thought, inward reasoning; purpose, a deliberating, questioning about what is true; hesitation, doubting, arguing

This same Greek word is used in these verses (emphasis added to show where the Greek word, “dialogismos”, is used):

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts and questionings, answered them, Why do you question in your hearts? (Luke 5:22 AMP).
And He said to them, Why are you disturbed and troubled, and why do such doubts and questionings arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38 AMP).
Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:21 AMP).

It is obvious that “questioning” is something that does not please God’s heart. Questioning is the weaving of our thoughts upon the loom of doubt– a few threads can easily be removed, but when allowed to continue, those thoughts can form whole wardrobes of crippling life style! Perhaps this is why Zacharias was unable to speak until his baby boy was born! If we are allowing our “questionings” to creep out through our lips, maybe we should place our hand over our mouth before an angel is sent to do it for us!
On the other hand, asking God questions is never condemned. In fact, the psalmist tells how he loved to “inquire” in God’s temple (q.v., Psalm 27:4-5,8; 34:10; 70:4; 105:4 Amplified Bible). I can just imagine David with his harp in front of the three-sided tent he had pitched on Mount Zion for the ark of the covenant – just sitting there and asking God question after question. And then waiting in love to see how He would answer! I’m sure that is where many of his song inspirations came from!
God delights to respond to our questions when they are based in trust and love. He will answer us in wonderful ways, bestowing favor and blessing:

Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own (Jer 33:3 Message).

I believe the Lord loves it when we sit at His feet, bask in His goodness, and “inquire” – placing our questions before Him and trusting that, whether He answers or remains silent, we would never consider anything else other than trusting His heart on every matter.
In spite of how busy we may get during this season, let’s take some little “Christmas awe and wonder” breaks and allow the many precious pieces of the Christmas story to draw us into the arms of our Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus!

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