Do You Have an Inquiring Mind?
CURIOSITY is a “desire to know.” A strong curiosity makes a person eager to learn, to find out about things. Jehovah implanted this eagerness in us, so that almost from the moment of birth we are driven to explore the world about us. Our very existence is a never-ending learning process. If we are to become mature, well-adjusted adults, we need to gratify our curiosity, our desire to find things out.
This is especially true on a spiritual level. Our prospects for eternal life depend upon our learning about Jehovah God. (John 17:3) The Bible tells us that he wants us to inquire about him, to “grope for him and really find him.” (Acts 17:23, 24, 27) If we suppress our curiosity or fail to allow it to develop, our advancement will be very slow. In fact, a lack of interest in spiritual things can be fatal.—Psalm 119:33, 34; Hosea 4:6.
Accordingly, Jehovah’s people from ancient times have always had stressed to them the need for instruction and learning in order to satisfy a proper desire to learn. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; 31:12; 2 Chronicles 17:9) Jesus the Messiah was the greatest teacher ever on earth. (Matthew 9:35) His disciples followed his example. Even when facing opposition, they “continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news.” (Acts 5:42) Such teaching stirred up interest in inquiring minds. Many were like the Beroeans, who responded with “the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”—Acts 17:11.
Similarly, many of the activities of the modern Christian congregation are centered around teaching. Thus, the congregation fulfills a primary purpose for its existence, namely, to promote and satisfy a desire to learn about Jehovah and his purposes. This kind of curiosity is wholesome and beneficial.
Proper Limits to Curiosity
Sometimes, however, children have to be protected from their own curiosity. When a baby reaches out to touch something hot or inquisitively puts a glass object into his mouth to see how it tastes, he may be harmed. We are not hindering his growth when we discourage his curiosity in those directions.
When children get older, their curiosity may again lead them into trouble. Thus, a teenage boy may be very curious about what is in a pornographic magazine. Or a teenage girl may, out of curiosity, experiment with tobacco or other drugs. A group of youngsters may get together and drink a lot of beer—trying to get drunk just to see what it is like! Once again, we are not restricting a teenager’s natural growth and development if we discourage this kind of curiosity.
Are there areas in which a mature Christian’s curiosity may get him into trouble? Yes, indeed. Paul warned Timothy against those who may appeal to a Christian’s curiosity in an effort to subvert his faith. “O Timothy,” said Paul, “guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.”—1 Timothy 6:20, 21.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul gave a further warning: “These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:18) Can you imagine how such speech must have provoked curiosity? Unwary persons may have wondered: ‘What do these men mean? How can they say that the resurrection has already happened?’ Intrigued, they may have listened. The result? The faith of some was subverted. Listening to such speech out of curiosity was dangerous in the same way that experimenting with drugs or pornography out of curiosity is dangerous.
Does this mean that Christians are narrow-minded, unwilling to listen to other people’s opinions? No, that is not the point. Rather, they are counseled to avoid opening their minds to things that can cause them grief later. Just imagine how different history might have been if Eve had refused to indulge her curiosity by listening to the deceitful words of Satan the Devil! (Genesis 3:1-6) The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders of “wolves” who, manifesting the same spirit that Satan had manifested toward Eve, “speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) They use “counterfeit words” designed to “exploit” us. These words express thoughts that are poisonous to the spirituality of a Christian.—2 Peter 2:3.
If you knew that a certain drink was poisonous, would you drink it out of curiosity to see what it tasted like, or to see whether your body was strong enough to handle the poison? Of course not. Similarly, is it wise to open your mind to words that are purposely designed to deceive you and draw you away from the truth? Hardly!
Beware of Worldly Philosophies
Curiosity can harm us, too, if it leads us to investigate worldly philosophies. Philosophy is defined as “human endeavors to understand and interpret through reason and speculation the whole of human experience, the underlying causes and principles of reality.” Ultimately, however, those proposing human philosophies turn out to be like those who are “always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) Their failure is due to one basic flaw: They rely on human wisdom rather than wisdom from God.
This flaw was frankly exposed by the apostle Paul. He spoke to the Corinthians about “the wisdom of this world,” which is “foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) And he warned the Romans against those who were “empty-headed in their reasonings.” (Romans 1:21, 22) Jehovah is the source of all we have. Rightly, we look to him to provide “accurate knowledge and full discernment” and to reveal to us “the deep things of God.” (Philippians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 2:10) The primary source of God’s wisdom is his Word, the Bible.
Because human philosophies ignore God’s Word, we should never underestimate the danger they present. Modern philosophical thinking has seduced many teachers of Christendom to accept the doctrine of evolution. They even abandon their belief in the inspiration of the Bible in favor of higher criticism in an effort to gain intellectual respectability. Political and social philosophies stressing personal freedom have led to an epidemic of abortions, widespread sexual immorality, drug abuse, and other destructive practices. Materialistic thinking leads most people today to measure happiness and success by their material possessions.
All these philosophies represent efforts to solve problems or seek happiness by human reasoning and without God’s help. They all ignore the basic truth that Jeremiah recognized: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Our happiness and our salvation depend on our obedience to and reliance upon Jehovah. It is thus the course of wisdom to resist the temptation to give free rein to our curiosity, exposing our mind to human ideas that can corrupt our thinking and eventually leave us lost among those who have no hope.
Curiosity About the Approaching End
Since Jehovah’s revelation in Eden that he had a purpose to remove the evil effects of Satan’s rebellion, His faithful servants have always had a lively curiosity about the outworking of the divine purpose. Why, even the angels have shown curiosity about this! (1 Peter 1:12) In Jesus’ day, many were intensely interested in knowing the exact time when the Kingdom would come. However, Jesus repeatedly told them that it was not Jehovah’s will for them to know. (Matthew 25:13; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:6, 7) Any attempt to fix a specific date would have been futile. Instead, he wisely urged them to pay attention to their Christian responsibilities, maintaining a sense of urgency every day.—Luke 21:34-36.
Today, world events provide overwhelming evidence that the end is near, and curiosity abounds about the date when it will occur. Certain developments may have convinced some that they had discovered the day and the hour. They experienced much anguish, perhaps even to the point of falling away from serving God, when their expectations were not realized. It is far better to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands, trusting that he will bring the end at just the right time. Everything we need in order to be in readiness has been provided.
The Need for Balance
So, like many other things in life, our curiosity can be a blessing or a curse. Properly directed, it can uncover priceless gems of knowledge that bring joy and refreshment. A healthy curiosity about our Creator, his will, and his purposes can be profoundly satisfying and beneficial. An unbridled, morbid curiosity can lure us into a morass of speculation and human theories wherein genuine faith and godly devotion cannot survive. Hence, when your curiosity threatens to lead you into something questionable, “be on your guard that you may not be led away . . . and fall from your own steadfastness.”—2 Peter 3:17.