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Curiosity: Good and Bad

by Robert Berendt
Boris Terekhov/Hemera/Thinkstock
 

One of the many traits humans were given at creation was the ability to be curious. Curiosity means the desire to know, to see, to touch and to feel. Every little child has this as a vital tool for their development. Their little fingers reach out to anything that is near. Often what they reach goes into their mouths as they taste, touch and feel to discover everything about them. Curiosity is a very important part of living, but it can be dangerous. We seem to have a deep need to satisfy a curiosity, but, all too often, we act hastily not gaining all the information we may need.

Adam and Eve were given clear instructions from God Himself about one tree in the beautiful Garden of Eden. They were told not to touch nor eat its fruit (Genesis 3:3). It is amazing what instructions like that do to humans. We get curious. What is wrong with touching the tree? Why should we not eat of the fruit when it looks delicious (Genesis 3:6)?

With a whole garden filled with trees and plenty of food, one would wonder why Eve needed to eat from that tree. How did she know it was good for food? In actual fact, she was curious. Added to that, she was told that God did not tell them the whole truth – and that in fact if she did eat of the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

Curiosity is a necessary and quite wonderful gift that God has given to us. It takes character for a person to properly satisfy a curiosity without getting into danger. Children do not have the understanding or character to recognize danger or to know when to control their curiosity. Adults have the responsibility of helping them make wise choices and so that they grow in wisdom and character.

The Bible is the word of God and in it we find instructions that are inspired by God for our good. It is God’s hope that we will develop His nature as we go through life (2 Peter 1:4). The path He has given us includes allowing us to make mistakes – to choose to listen to Satan. Proverbs informs us that it is a folly and shame to answer a matter before you hear or fully understand it (Proverbs 18:13). We also read that the heart of the prudent acquires or gains knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks it – that is, we strive to get all the information before we do something stupid (Proverbs 18:15).

When we think about religion and our concerns about eternal life, we enter an arena in which we are often ill equipped. Paul wrote about his concerns for people he loved. He states that there is one church – the Body of Christ that has the responsibility to teach people to withstand the devious and dangerous situations into which our curiosity might lead us.

The church is to help us all grow in character and wisdom so that we cannot be deceived any longer. It speaks of the trickery and cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4:11-14). The church is to speak the truth in love to help its members know when to avoid and run from areas of danger to which curiosity leads them – and when it is safe to look and seek. We are to continue to grow in knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:5).

All knowledge is not good knowledge. Trial and error is not always the best answer to satisfying curiosity. Using wisdom, gathering information and controlling what we do is much safer and satisfying. That comes when character is developed so that we are able to make wise choices and follow them. God did say He had put things in this world under the control of the human race (Hebrews 2:8). That does not mean that we do not have to search, study, explore and develop our knowledge and understanding.

It may be very hard for us to comprehend that humans have lived about 6,000 years on earth and the development of control over our environment has been minimal during that time. Part of the reason is that humans did not take the time to investigate and understand God’s laws. Many were superstitious, occupied with work and family or just with the heavy work needed to survive.

The driving force for our advances in science and control over our world is our curiosity. We want to know how and why things work. But we also realize that we grow older and life on this earth will eventually end. The future lies in eternity – and though we live now, we do need to think a thousand years ahead.

There is no greater or more important area for us to consider and wonder about than our Creator and eternal life. Oddly enough mankind gives very little time and effort to this study. It seems our curiosity is limited. We tend to lose interest and grow weary of too much study and mental effort. Perhaps it is that God has seen fit to keep mankind blind for His own reasons (2 Corinthians 3:14-18). He encourages us to look and wonder. He tells us to seek Him and we will find Him. This is the best pursuit we could have. Curiosity is a frame of mind that ought to be involved in all we do.

With the present conditions of the world, it is high time for us to seek our Creator and answer the questions about life. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? How about our curiosity – do we thirst for knowledge in this vital area? If not, we will wish we had.

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