January 18, 2023 — Answers are to Build Up, not Tear Down

“I know this may be a dumb question,” Stan said with a smile, “but have you ever heard the expression that there are no dumb questions?”

“Of course,” I replied with a laugh. “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” Stan replied, “I was thinking about this the other day. It seems to me that while the expression is probably well-intended, I also think it’s probably wrong.”

“I can agree with that,” I responded. “As a matter of fact, I’ve heard a lot of dumb questions in my life! And I’ve probably asked more than my share of dumb ones.”

“Me, too,” Stan replied. “But do you know what’s worse than a dumb question?”

“No,” I said. “What?”

“A dumb answer,” he responded, “or at least answering a question in a dumb or insensitive way.”

“Seems to me,” he continued, “that the apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church in Colossae.”

“Paul wrote about dumb questions and answers?” I asked.

“Not exactly in those words,” Stan said, “but it seems to me that Paul clearly wrote that all of my answers to questions are to be made with grace regardless of whether or not I think it’s a dumb question.”

“With grace?” I said. “How so?”

“Let me give you an example,” Stan replied.  “If my response to a person’s question makes that person feel like he or she just asked a dumb question, I have not answered with grace. Instead, I have answered in such a way that likely will shut the person down from asking any more questions. I think that’s wrong in a general way when the question is about anything, but it is especially wrong and inappropriate when the question concerns faith, spiritual growth, and anything like that.”

“Why particularly wrong with questions about faith and spiritual growth?” I asked.

“Because there’s nothing more important,” Stan replied. “A person’s eternal destination could hang in the balance. As well, I think that spiritual growth on this side of eternity is all about asking questions and getting the right answers.”

“How so?”

“The Bible has all sorts of instances where people asked Jesus questions,” Stan said. “What if His response would have been, ‘That’s a dumb question,’ when the man described as the rich young ruler asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Or what about when Nicodemus asked, ‘How can a man be born when he’s old?’ What if Jesus had said, ‘That’s a dumb question’ rather than explaining what it means to be born again?”

“So,” I responded, “when people ask us questions about our faith, Christianity, the church, discipleship, anything like that, we are to respond in grace. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And for me the best way to keep that focus is to remember how I was treated.”

“How was that?”

“At one point in my life,” Stan said, “I knew absolutely nothing about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, faith, the church, discipleship, or anything else. I knew nothing whatsoever. I asked questions and received gracious answers that encouraged my faith. I hate to think about where I would be if my questions had not been answered graciously. I, too, am to have gracious answers that build up and never tear down.”


Bible verses to consider:

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29.

And I say to you that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in prayer with all of the questions I may have about you, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the church, discipleship, and everything. Thank you that you never make me feel that I have asked a dumb question, but that you always respond to my questions with grace. I confess that too often I am not gracious in responding to questions that are asked of me. Please forgive that foolishness. Help me follow every step of your lead so I am gracious in all of my answers to every question, but especially with questions concerning a person’s faith and faith walk. Help me to never discourage another person by the way I answer questions, but to only encourage a deeper faith. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Questions are how we get answers. Have you answered correctly the question of who Jesus is so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? Do you believe that God encourages us to ask questions about who He is, what He has provided, and what He expects of us? Do you ask such questions? Do you think God can use you to answer such questions that other people may have? How do you answer such questions? With grace, knowing that a lot may hang in the balance? If you sense the need for change in asking and answering questions like these, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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