Straight from an Inquisitive Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to the Holy Land. For ten full days we ran where Jesus walked! Our Jewish tour guide was quite animated and, although admittedly he was not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he had vast insights into the history of God’s Word and God’s people. He especially had ways of bringing them both to life. One of the things he demonstrated for us was the unique way Jews communicate. He said, typically, a Jewish person will answer a question with a question. For instance the response to a question like, “What time is it?” is answered “Why do you want to know?” Since then, anytime I read through the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of John, I take note of conversations that Jesus, a Jew, had with others. Astoundingly, in twenty-one chapters I counted up more than thirty questions He asks. Go ahead! Count them for yourself!
In fact, the first words Jesus speaks in the book of John are in the form of a question: The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:35-38) Interestingly, Jesus’ final words in John’s Gospel are also a question. When Peter saw him he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
One of my goals for the year ahead is to ask better questions—Jesus’ style. There are several reasons for this.
1. To challenge my own heart and keep myself in check. As I read God’s Word, I pray the words of the psalmist, David, “Search me O, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) I put myself in each scenario where Jesus asked a profound question and then ask myself the same question in the context of my own life. What an amazing and challenging time the Lord and I have spent together exploring these questions. And what a convicting and intimate time we have spent as I’ve taken them and applied them to this searching and inquisitive heart of mine! One question that the Lord has challenged me with recently comes from John 15:21-17; “[Lisa} do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” I read God’s Word I ask myself questions such as:
- What was it about that that quickened my heart?
- What excited me?
- How did it challenge me?
- What has the Lord already taught me concerning this issue?
- When have I already experienced this in my life?
- How has it played out in my own life?
- How have I applied it to my life?
- Is there anything I’m experiencing in my life right now that might pertain to this issue?
- What else does God’s Word have to say about this topic?
- What is the Lord telling me, teaching me, warning me about, or reminding me of regarding this question?
- What life principles can I draw from this question?
2. To challenge other hearts as I speak or write. I know and believe with all of my heart that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Sometimes, questions can stimulate not only my own heart, but can be used to inspire an entire multi-session conference or teaching series. My questions have been beneficial as I’ve written books and articles. It’s one thing for me to experience something, but if the audience can’t connect with it, be challenged by it, or somehow relate it and apply it to their own lives I’m just feeding them information. A good teacher is a good student and learns how to ask good questions. So as I consider an audience, my questions become more like the following:
- What are the simple points I can make concerning this verse or passage?
- What are some other resources, verses, Scripture passages, or topics that pertain to this question being addressed?
- How can I best communicate the principles that are drawn from this question or series of questions to others?
- How does this question challenge others to live the abundant life according to God’s Word?
- How can I creatively communicate this verse, passage, or principle?
- What is the best way to ask these questions? i.e. How can I ask these questions in a way that will produce more than a “yes” or “no” answer?
Finally, asking good questions enables me to put the responsibility back into the hands of those who come to me seeking counsel or advice. Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him… All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:23-26)
As a pastor’s wife, I am sought after to listen and speak truth into the hearts and minds of those needing or seeking godly counsel. In years gone by, my way of counseling someone was to jump in the water and save them. What would inevitably happen was that I would jump into the water head first, swim to a person’s rescue—exhausting myself in the process—take on the weight of his or her problem and often drown with him or her. By asking questions, like Jesus, I allow Him to be their Saviour, instead of me. By asking questions, Jesus’ style, it encourages a person to search his or her own heart for the answers he or she is asking. It prevents me from doing the heart-work and instead provides an opportunity for a person to search for his or her own answers. Ultimately, it leads a person to the Wonderful Counselor. That’s not to say that I don’t get my feet wet. But instead of jumping in to the rescue, I’m learning to stand on the beach and call him or her into shore. That’s when I ask myself questions like, “What would be some good questions to ask this person or my audience to challenge them personally?” And that’s even more directly related to some of Jesus’ questions. I could list the ones I’ve discovered and uncovered for you, but that would be jumping in to your rescue and undoing all that I’ve just mentioned to you in this post. Instead I’m going to leave that up to you.
- Take some time this month to read the book of John.
- Highlight all of the questions that Jesus asks.
- Ask yourself these questions in the context of your own life and circumstances.
- Perhaps turn these questions inside out and ask God to turn them into a message, a book, a teaching series, or a counseling session.
And so I close with one more question of Jesus’ to challenge your heart and get you asking questions Jesus-style: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org