Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is Curiosity Sin?

Curiosity has been branded with a negative light in our day. We all know the proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat.” After all, curiosity for Sodom was a major factor which contributed to the death of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32). So one begs the question, is all curiosity bad? Perhaps a definition of curiosity may provide some guidance. The first three definitions provided by Merriam-Webster define curiosity as (1) the desire to know, (2) inquisitive interest in others’ concerns, and (3) interest leading to inquiry. Based upon these simple definitions, I will provide three Scripture passages supporting how curiosity can indeed be godly. Paul wrote about his intense desire to know Christ, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11, emphasis added) Paul had a burning curiosity and desire to know Christ to the point of identifying with physical suffering and death by resting in the power and promise of resurrection. Paul also wrote about the importance of taking an interest in the interest of others and displaying humility rather than selfishness, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5, emphasis added) Finally Peter wrote about the curiosity of the prophets seeking to know all about the prophesied Christ, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12, emphasis added)

As one can see curiosity in and of itself is not sinful. Curiosity is a God-given emotion that derives benefit when properly exercised within our relationship with God. In my opinion, curiosity is synonymous with zealousness and often provides the energy and motivation for discovery in our life with God. In the secular world, curiosity has been the driving force behind many of the discoveries and innovations seen throughout the history of the world. For instance, I think of Benjamin Franklin and his workings with electricity. His curiosity with electricity led to amazing changes for all of mankind.

When exercising curiosity, the attitude, the motivation and the object are important for determining whether or not the exercise is sinful. So what are we curious about? Is it the things of God or the things of this world? Why are we curious about something? Is it to satisfy the lusts of our flesh or to know more fully the things of God and life in His Spirit? Who are we curious about? A celebrity sinner or the Savior of all mankind?

Obviously curiosity directed toward Jesus Christ (i.e. wanting to know Him) is indeed a godly exercise of the emotion. Luke testified about the believers in Berea as having an attitude exhibiting eagerness for the truths of God, as those who carefully searched the Scriptures, “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.” (Acts 17:10-12) The Berean people were eager to know Christ. Another man who exhibited curiosity for Christ was a blind man from Jericho, “And it came about that as He was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting by the road, begging. Now hearing a multitude going by, he began to inquire what this might be. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he had come near, He questioned him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!" And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he regained his sight, and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.” (Luke 18:35-43) The blind man inquired about the multitude passing and had the vision to know the power of Christ was the power to heal him.

However, curiosity can also be used for sin, especially when it is directed toward the wrong object such the things of this world. John warned against loving the world and its things which appeal to our fleshly lusts, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) In our media crazed cultural, the temptations available to satisfy the curiosity is at an all-time high. There are plenty of worldly options to satisfy the lusts of our curiosity. Instantaneously with the click of a button by mouse or remote, we can get all the trash this world has to offer. Reality television is constantly pushing the limits and using the folly of man as entertainment appealing to natural curiosity of the flesh. Too often we are tempted to satisfy our appetite for curiosity with the things of this fallen world rather than the things of God. Curiosity can be a slippery slope when investing in the things of this world and will surely lead one to disappointment and death. We must use this God-given emotion for good and godliness rather than sinfulness. As James wrote even using the world in moderation to satisfy the cravings of our curiosity leaves one in a state of hostility with God (James 4:4). I found an interesting blog posting entitled “When Curiosity Becomes Sin” while researching your question that you might also find helpful on the subject: http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2005/09/when-curiosity-becomes-sin.html.

Let me also say that I agree with you that being too curious can also be a hindrance to faith. The sons of Korah said it best, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10) Often times in life there are unanswered questions that the Scriptures may not explicitly address. After careful search and genuine inquiry with the Scripture, there is a place for resting and trusting the Lord, meeting the gap between our understanding and our trust in God with faith. However, our tendency may be to look to logic or reason or the things of this world to find an answer. The Scriptures warn against false teaching and the futility of endless speculations (2 Timothy 2:23-24). We must be careful to distinguish false teaching and strange doctrines, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3-4) Paul reminded Timothy of his instruction to not pay any attention to other deceptive world views that only distract and detract one from the furtherance of God’s administration. Paul also stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy thought life, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

In conclusion, the curiosity is an important emotion of the mind. If our mind is set on the Spirit, the use of one’s curiosity is productive and healthy in the Christian life, motivating the believer to pursue God with zeal and passion. However, when the mind is set on the flesh, the use of curiosity will ultimately yield sin and death and lead one to satisfy this emotion with the things offered by the fallen world. Curiosity is not evil, but must be properly exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:6), while abiding in Christ (John 15:5), to have any eternal benefit to the glory of God.

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