Here’s a question.
Why do some people ask lots of questions while others aren’t especially curious?
A broad question like this may not shed much light in particular cases. We realize, for instance, that extroverts and introverts may express themselves differently even if they share a common curiosity. So, too, context often makes a difference. A quiet person might be effusive with a very close friend but shy among mere acquaintances. Or a naturally expressive person might be quiet in a classroom because they don’t know much about the topic being addressed. A designated leader might be more expressive than someone assigned to follow his or her lead. And so on.
So let me link the question to a Bible proverb and probe the narrower feature it raises. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2).
Are some very assertive people actually fools? It’s a good question and some answers come to mind.
But first, what makes a fool? The Proverbs 18 text doesn’t offer us analysis—only the reference to “pleasure” as the motive for being opinionated. And, with that, a contrast between “understanding” and, implicitly, not understanding. In other words the fool has a firm and fully expressed point of view that isn’t tied to reality. It becomes a pleasing illusion.
In reading the book of Proverbs as a whole we find a regular contrast between the fool and the wise man tied to the way each responds to God. The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”—with the word “fear” expressing a wholehearted devotion and response to God.
This offers us some headway in coming to our answer. If a wise person knows God, then that person will also know that there’s much more to God than meets the eye. If, for instance, God in his Triune creativity has been at work from before the creation of the world in a conversation that set out all the chapters of every life ever to be lived—I’m extending an insight from Psalm 139:16 here—then we may find him to be deeper and more thoughtful than we’ve ever realized.
And if we recognize that God’s many biblical invitations for us to search for him—to seek his ways, his kingdom, his heart and his secrets—are birthed from his heartfelt love for the world, then curiosity may have an incredible range of opportunities. The pleasure of a wise person comes in finding more and more of God and his ways.
If, on the other hand, a person doesn’t take God seriously then he or she doesn’t have much interest in that option. Instead that person is left with the chore of making self-concern a starting point. God is displaced by self interests—the task of being god-like—and most conversations then become exercises in persuasion.
Being like God calls for enormous creativity. But it needs even more than personal creativity: such a person also needs to get others to see the world with the same eyes. And for that to happen he or she needs to be assertive, compelling, and maybe even a bit demanding.
So the fool turns out to be the man who is busy asserting what isn’t true: that he is important and meaningful even if God isn’t at the center of his life. His life then becomes a promotional exercise, but no one in his or her right mind will buy his premise.
The man or woman who loves Jesus and his Father, on the other hand, will be in a perpetual pursuit of more. Call this our divine curiosity.
And the Spirit will help in the process by using the Scriptures as a guide and resource for more and more insights. Questions will be unending—not the questions of a skeptic but the questions of the avid pursuer—and the source of life Himself will always be ready to answer us and to offer more and more of “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined”—the rich insights that are uniquely “prepared for those love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Are you one who never asks questions but always has an opinion? If you are, think again. And then ask God a simple question: “Is there anything about you that I should know?” You’ll enjoy what follows!
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo.
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].