Bobb Biehl is the master of questions. He is the President of Masterplanning Group International, and years ago wrote a beautiful little pamphlet which I have personally referred to off and on through the years. A year or so ago I bought one for all our full-time staff. It’s titled, Asking Questions, and it’s not fancy – it’s really just got a bunch of questions in it. There is a chapter on questions to ask to avoid small talk, another on focusing or refocusing your life, one on planning, and quite a few more. Biehl writes,
“Great questions help us think through a wide variety of options…between the time we see an opportunity or problem, and the time we make a final decision/take a final action. There is a gigantic difference between the person who has no questions to help her/him process situations and the person who has profound questions available.” Asking Questions, Bobb Biehl
I bring up Bobb’s writings because recently I read a great question from John Piper which I thought was paradigm-changing. It’s based on Hebrews 12:1…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (ESV)
In the context, Piper first heard this question from another pastor, and he is speaking about that. Read closely – it just might change your life:
And the preacher said — and I am the preacher now saying it — this text says, “Look to Jesus and lay aside sins for sure and lots of other stuff, too.” Now that is a different way to live. Well preacher, as a 13-year-old or 14-year-old, what question should I ask if it is not, “Is it a sin?” And the answer is, “Does it help me run?” That is the answer. “Does it get in my way when I am trying to become more patient, more kind, more gentle, more loving, more holy, more pure, more self-controlled? Does it get in my way or does it help me run?” That is the question to ask.
Ask the maximal righteousness question, not the minimal righteousness question.
You know why that question isn’t very often asked? Because we are not passionate runners. We don’t want to run. We don’t get up in the morning saying, “What is the course today? What is the course of purity? What is the course of holiness? What is the course of humility? What is the course of justice? What is the course of righteousness? What is the course of love? What is the course of self-control? What is the course of courage? O God, I want to maximize my running today.”
If you have that mentality about your life, then you will ask not, “How many sins can I avoid?” but “How many weights can I lay down so that I am fleet-footed in the race of righteousness?”
Love it. I need to start doing this – not asking, “Is it a sin?” but, “Does it help me run?”
That’s worth remembering.