Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 14

Matthew 18 v 21 – 35

And the Next Question Is;-

We seem to be fascinated with quiz questions, be it on television quiz shows, purchasing books of general knowledge questions, board games with questions or even pub quizzes, we are all susceptible to the urge to show our knowledge.

Life is full of questions, and it’s not just limited to the younger generations, although young people do tend to raise questions that can be challenging as any parent will experience at some point in time.

I read recently of a young boy who approached his dad with a question, ‘Dad, where did I come from?’  His dad took a deep breath and launched into a complex and embarrassing explanation of the birds and bees. When dad had finished the young boy looked puzzled and said, ‘But mum said I came from Oldham and we moved to Derby for your job at Rolls Royce’. This just goes to justify the first line of all exam papers, ‘Read the questions carefully before you answer’.

Another young person asked their dad, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ to which dad replied, ‘I don’t know ask your mum’. The child asked, ‘Dad why are trees green?’ and dad replied, ‘I don’t know ask your grandad’. The child asked, ‘Dad where does the moon go to during the day?’ and dad replied, I don’t know go and ask your grandma’.  The child then said. ‘Dad you don’t mind me asking questions do you?’ and dad replied, ‘Of course not, you don’t learn anything if you don’t ask questions’, which goes to prove that the answer to the question is just as important as the question itself.

Learning through questions is perfectly true and using questions is pivotal to our learning throughout life. My dad always said that you learn something new every day and you never stop learning, so perpetual learning comes from perpetual questions.

Throughout this COVID 19 crisis, how many people have asked the question, ‘How do I work this computer?’ In my case, my grandchildren have answered that question. It’s like a reversal of roles from them asking me to answer homework questions to me being taught computers by them.

The whole philosophy of the subject of questions is complex, for example, the complexity of the question depends on the person asking it and the complexity of the answer depends on the recipient of the question, (I hope you followed that). For example, can you imagine Einstein asking the milkman if E=Mc2 is the right equation for relativity, (I hasten to add this is not a reflection on milk men) but who could answer a question of that magnitude.

During my service as a JP, questions were central to the process of justice. The entangled journey to find the truth comes from evidence and questioning and there are strict procedures that apply to questioning in court. Obviously questions must be constructed in a format that avoids confusion or directing a witness into a particular predetermined answer. In other words you can’t put words into a witness’s mouth. 

However, despite all the protocols there are still times when even the best get it wrong, like the time when the prosecuting council, asked the witness, who was he defendants twin brother, how long he known the defendant.

But through questioning the truth will prevail, as in the case where a young man was accused of driving without a license. The prosecution asked, ‘Are you aware of the charge of driving without a license?  The accused replied, ‘Yes Sir.’ Prosecution asked, ‘Do you possess a license?  ‘No’ came the reply’. Prosecution asked, ‘How did you come here to court today?  ‘I drove here and parked in the car park,’ came the reply.

So by questions we gain knowledge and also through questions we can seek and find the truth. Never before have we had the depth of answers to all our questions at our fingertips. The internet is a cauldron of information and answers and has now become the centre of learning in many household.

When it comes to questions on life, the Bible has all the answers within its pages. God’s word reaches out to us and guides us through our life style, way of life, social relationships, truth and forgiveness.

In Matthew 18 v 21 we are told that Peter asked Jesus a question, relating to how often he should forgive his brother who has sinned against him. Peter probably thought that he was showing grace by offering 7 times, but Jesus showed by figuratively using 490 times that forgiveness is given indefinitely. Jesus then reinforces his answer by using the parable of the unforgiving servant. One servant receives forgiveness from the King but in turn shows no forgiveness to his brother servant. The point being that as we receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ, then we must also show forgiveness our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us.

I often use an illustration of a friend who always filled in his diary with a pencil so that he could rub entries out and change them. The problem was that he put so much pressure on the pencil that the imprint from January could be read in December, so the entry was never erased.

Through Jesus death and resurrection our sin is rubbed out, not leaving a trace or imprint, not just for the present but for all time never to show up on future pages.

A young man was in court pleading guilty to a charge of shoplifting. It was the 25th conviction for shoplifting in his young but energetic career in crime. The defence solicitor was summing up on behalf of his client prior to sentencing and he addressed the court as follows; ‘Can I make it clear to your worships, that my client has not one ounce of dishonesty in his character. It is clearly a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. – 25 times

Derek T.