If there was one thing I really hated when I was a teenager, it was getting the 3rd degree from my dad regarding something that I’d done wrong. The lecture/inquisition was always pretty upsetting for dad too, & invariably he’d wind things up saying something like…
“So just tell me son, why did you do this? Why?”
“I don’t know dad”
What do you mean “I. Don’t. Know. You HAD to have SOME reason. WHY??? Why after all our talking & after all we went thru last time…
Well, I didn’t know then & I still don’t know the ‘why’ to much of my foolish rebellion/laziness/selfishness etc. No matter how long the lecture & how many times he asked, I often couldn’t give him any real reason, because I just honestly did not know!
And of course, ‘like Father, like son’, when my teenagers were winding their way through the dark labyrinth of adolescence, one day I heard myself saying…
“Just please tell me ‘why son, why did you do this?” And normally, my kids were just as stumped as I was when my dad asked me.
So what’s the deal. Why? Laziness? Rebellion? Meanness?
As parents, employers or anyone on authority, we often feel we need to know ‘WHY?’, when something serious goes wrong…. But… do we?
Without being disrespectful to the many of us who have felt this ‘need to know ‘why?’, after raising our 3 children who are all now in their 30’s, and after being an employer of 20+ souls for over 25 year; I’ve come to believe that in relational disputes/failures etc, ‘why’ someone disobeyed, gave up, betrayed, stole, lied etc. is not an important question for me to know. I did NOT say that the ‘why’ wasn’t important; I said I now believe it’s just not important for ME to know, when I’m the one who has a subordinate of any kind of a situation like this.
Let me explain why (sorry!), I’m thinking that. In order to do that, I need to go back to the story of the very beginning of the human race we have the Genesis… the story of Adam & Eve and what is called ‘the fall’. Even if you don’t accept the Genesis account literally, it certainly stands as a very real Truth on its own as a simple, clear parable of the nature of mankind & our relationship to our Creator. A quick overview (as it relates to our ‘why’ topic).
After the initial Creation stuff, Adam was created & the first thing that happens, God gives him a job; puts him in His Garden & puts him to work, cultivating the Garden. At the same time, He tells him he can eat ‘freely’ from everything in the Garden except one tree; the tree of the knowledge of good & evil…and if he eats from that tree, he dies that very day (Gen 2:15-17).
Then, God sees it’s no good for man to be alone, so he creates all the creatures of the earth, & has Adam name them (big job). Still no helper/companion for Adam, so out of –from- Adam, God creates woman; Eve. (Gen 2:18-25)
Now they are together, in God’s Garden, tending it & caring for everything in it, and along comes the Serpent. He sees that the woman is more vulnerable to his craftiness, so he tricks her into tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree… he tricks her into thinking she needed to really know, experience & understand not just Good (she already met & knows God; Who is total goodness) but she also wants to know & understand Evil. And then so does Adam too. (This need to ‘know & understand Evil’ has remained a gigantic temptation for mankind. ) Then, they realize their nakedness & try to cover-up what they were ashamed of; tried to hide it with by fabricating a ‘man-made’ solution from leaves. About that time, the Lord comes for his daily walk with them in the cool of the evening. And of course being completely ashamed, they hid themselves completely from their God….the leaves alone weren’t doing it. (Gen 3:1-8).
So now they have ‘the discussion’. Let’s look at exactly what God asked & said to them after catching them in the most fundamental disobedience of all… He asks…
- “Where are you?” I think God could physically find them if He wanted to; he was asking ‘where are you in our relationship?’ “Where are you, with Me?” (3:9)
- “Who made you know – who told you– that you are naked?” (3:11)
- “Have you eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat?” ( Is this what you did?”)
- “Just what have you done?” God then asks of the woman after Adam tries to throw blame off himself. (3:13)
And that’s it. That is the end of the questions God asks, the end of the questions he requires them to answer. What has happened has been clarified & confirmed, & then God takes action on the Serpent, on Adam & on Eve with personal ‘curses’ or consequences, & tosses them (and mankind) out of His Garden. (Gen 3:14-24)
Notice; He never asks them ‘Why?’. He never makes them come up with a reason that they must confess to Him or to themselves. Never… and I’ve come to believe & understand that’s very significant, and it’s certainly not a mistake or oversight on God’s part.
He knew they knew what He said, and what He wanted. And by their actions, they spoke to & totally disclosed their preferences & their loyalties. They decided to obey & follow the Words of the Enemy, instead of the Words of their Creator; & by doing so made the Enemy the Prince of this Earth; abdicating their position with God & their position on this Earth as His Caretakers of all He created. And as a kind of last stroke of failure & sadness, God Himself makes some clothes for them by killing something… and the first innocent blood is spilled to ‘cover’ mankind’s shame.
I don’t know about you, but I sure would have liked to hear Adam & Eve’s answer to ‘why’? Why did they ‘need’ to embrace the words of the Serpent & abandon the Words of our God? Why the Tree of Knowledge, but not the Tree of Life? Why didn’t Adam step in & intervene? (3:6b says “he was there with her” CEV).
But, God did not ask ‘why’? He simply makes sure that what was done is clear, & then puts into effect the consequences.
Is this an isolated incident, or is this a pattern of some kind God often uses & follows after a deliberate disobedience/rebellion? Let’s look at a few other significant failures ‘we’ had with Him.
Gen 4:1-16 Cain & Abel & the first murder. The Lord approves of Abel’s offering but not Cain’s, & Cain gets angry & downcast. Before anything serious happens, the Lord does ask Cain “Why you are angry & why is your face downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it”. Clearly, God was asking ‘why’ to try teach & help Cain understand consequences before it’s too late & he goes too far. But it does no good, he murders his brother. And then after the act, God asks…
“Where is Abel your Brother? (4:9)
“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out from the ground”…(4:10)
And then God gives him his Judgment. Again, no “Why did you do this?
Gen 6: 9 – Gen 9:28 The account of all the peoples of the earth turning away from God, except Noah & his family. God does not gather anyone together to question them. He doesn’t even ask Noah why he obeys & doesn’t go along with the crowd. He simply sees things as they are, looks at the fruit in the lives of the people, & takes action; the Flood.
So, after the flood, God tells Noah & his family to fill the earth again (same words given to Adam & Eve), & he makes Covenant with them.
Gen 9:7-11 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” 8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” NIV
But once again, mankind turns away from God’s Command & Guidance.
Gen 11:1-4 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” NIV
And once again, God does NOT come down to ask everyone ‘why?”… He simply comes, sees our disobedience & then takes action to keep us from doing further damage to ourselves, (like kicking out of the Garden before we eat from the Tree of Life, in a sinful state).
Gen 11:5-9 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel — because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. NIV
This pattern of God dealing mankind and/or individuals is very consistent all thru the scripture, from the very beginning as we have seen…Thru the Great Prophets like Moses…
Num 20:11-13 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” 13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he showed himself holy among them. NIV
And into the New Covenant & the Early Church, as when Judas betrayed Jesus
John 13:26-30 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. NIV
And when the Apostles & God were lied to…
Acts 5:1-9 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?””Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” NIV
Consistently, we do not see God focusing in on the ‘Why?’. He asks leading questions before the sins, to try to Teach us. He asks clarifying questions during or after the sin so the Truth is made plainer… but no great energy is spent on ‘why’ did you do this or that???
After reading all the above passages & many, many others, one thing is very clear to me now that never was before, and it’s this; ‘why’ a sin happens, can not negate the sin or excuse the sin… so the great amount of time we Westerners spend on the ‘Why’ of a thing is really quite wasted…because ‘why’ changes nothing. There is an old saying “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear a word you are saying”. This is very true. What happened, happened & the ‘why’ of it does not justify it, if what was done was clear, plain rebellion.
Also, there is another reason I think that the Lord does not dwell on the’why’… and that’s because He does indeed truly see us with completely Free Will, and He never challenges our right to excercise that Free Will. I think it goes to the very Core of the Nature of God, & His desired Relationship with Mankind & with each of us as individuals.
He wants us to Love Him as He loves us; freely & without strings.
God is more than able to Create any kind of beings he wants. Many different kinds were Created, but Mankind was the Premier Creation, above all Creatures & Created Beings, Mankind stands supreme, with only God Himself ‘lesser’ or ‘lower’.
And Free Will is what has made that difference. Individualistic, absolute free will to choose whatever we want, and to Worship Who ever we want… that is the big difference.
That is God’s Great Hope toward us; that we would freely, willingly & gladly choose Him over everything & everyone else. And so, we have the ‘right’ to choose to follow or not; to listen or not. And all He needs to do is watch how we live, see what we do and don’t do; and our Choices become self-evident as to Who is our Lord.
Even the final, Great White Throne Judgment on the Last Day will be like that. Not a bunch of questions about ‘why’ we did this or that, or about what we believed’, or about some kind of sinner’s prayer or church attendance or anything of the sort. He simply will review with us, and all of Mankind, what we did, and what we did not do; and if our actions show that we did not Love Him as He wants us too… we will be sent away from His Presence forever…
Matt 25:41-46 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” NIV
There won’t be big dialogue. We won’t be able to give any big, fancy excuses or explanations as to ‘why’ we neglected those poor souls, and thereby Him; He’ll simply review what we did & did not do, and our actions will show everything. In fact, our lack of Loving action will show everything even more…
So… the next time we have a chance to help people in need, in prison, hungry, naked; whatever; I hope we don’t let ourselves get stopped from helping & serving because we think have so many good reasons ‘why’ we can’t spend the time, the money, the attention or effort right now…
I hope we get bad at asking ‘why’, & get good at just seeking to be like Him… (Matt 7:21-27)
And, I hope we also get good at helping our kids & our employees & our Team members to not let a bunch of questions (why?) & excuses get in the way of simple obedience, as we lead by example fruitfully with Good Deeds; not with a bunch of words & ‘whys’..
Matt 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. NIV
Eph 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV
John 15:16-17 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. NIV