Great teachers use questions.
"Where are you Adam?" Do you really think that God didn't know he was hiding in the bushes with Eve?
"Do you have a right to be upset Jonah?" (after God spared Ninevah)
"Which person acted liked a neighbor?" Jesus of Nazareth
In his letter to the Philippians Paul asks a rhetorical question
"So then, as Christians, do you have any encouragement? Do you have any comfort from love? Do you have any spiritual relationships? Do you have any sympathy and compassion? " (2:1)Well, duh! Yes, of course, God and others have encouraged me. Yes people and the Lord have comforted and loved me MANY TIMES. Yes I have some precious brothers and sisters. Yesterday I spent time with my friend Billy. We had real fellowship, sharing of lives. Have I received sympathy and compassion? Many times more than I deserve - grace upon grace upon grace.
So we all know Paul's next word "THEN". Since ..... Then. If .... THEN. OK, the "then" is coming but it would be a mistake to jump ahead. The rhetorical question, the "IF" is supposed to make us think. When someone asked a question we will often drift off in our minds searching for the answer. So don't rush, stop and think about the question. Who has encouraged you? comforted you? loved you? What spiritual relationships are you grateful for? What sympathy and compassion have you experienced?
This week my daughter Colleen wrote a card to Ione and I telling us how much she appreciated and admired us. We were so encouraged. A pastor spent time with me and said "I still need you to pastor me." He knows me, knows my sins and failures, and still he said that to me. My friend Billy sought me out to talk. I was greatly encouraged and I hope I offered him some comfort too.
Questions should make us pause and think, adjust our attitudes - increase our gratitude.
"Father God, thank you for asking questions. Thank you for slowing me down. Thank you for the encouragement, comfort, fellowship, sympathy and love that I have experienced through your people, your family. I am wowed! Thank you."