Some Thoughts By
Gary Ray Branscome

 It is written, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them (wondered about them) in her heart."
(Luke 2:19,51)

  Wonder has been called the act of philosophy because it is basic to inquiry, and thus basic to learning and to every intellectual discipline. In fact, wonder is one of the things that differentiates men from beasts. While cattle may observe the world around them, and may see a gate swing open to let them through, they never wonder about what they see. Their mind never asks why the gate is there, or desires to understand how it works. For that reason, people who never wonder about the things they see and hear are acting, to a certain extent, like animals. And just as animals can be manipulated and controlled, they are often swayed by political rhetoric and promises, without ever seriously analyzing what has been said. Like animals, they can also be swept to and fro by emotions and desires that they do not understand and are at loss to control (Titus 3:3). However, wonder also helps us to deal with those emotions and desires, for it helps us to detach our thoughts from our feelings, thus freeing our thoughts from control by the flesh.


    A person who is full of wonder cannot help but be a thinking person. At the same time they will never be a “know-it-all,” for they will never assume that they have a corner on the truth. On the contrary, wondering is itself an inner admission of one’s lack of knowledge, for we can only wonder about what we do not know.

    By wondering about the concepts that various words were intended to express, those who wonder rise above the shallow use of words that is common in our society. Furthermore, as they ponder those words they do not manufacture answers or assume meanings the way a “know-it-all” does (Romans 1:22). Instead, they wonder about the different ideas and explanations that arise in their mind, and they continue to wonder until their questions are answered. In contrast, the proud in heart seem more interested in professing to know than in actually knowing (Luke 1:52).

    Since the word “pride” is sometimes denounced as evil, and at other times praised, there was a time when I wondered about the word “pride.” On one hand I was told that I should take pride in my work, pride in my appearance, and so forth; on the other the pride of the Pharisees was denounced. Furthermore, when I asked about this seeming contradiction I was told only that the pride of the Pharisees was a false pride, and that did not answer my question. However, as I kept the question on the back of my mind, wondering about it from time to time, I gradually came to see that the pride of the Pharisees was a false pride because it was based self deception. They thought that they were more righteous than others when, in truth, that was a delusion (Luke 18:11, Isaiah 64:6).
    While that understanding provided a certain amount of insight, it still did not fully answer my question as to what pride was. A few years later, however, I came to see that the word pride is connected with the concept of having nothing to be ashamed of. In other words, to have pride, is to care about doing things doing things in a way that we have no reason to be ashamed of. To take pride in our work, is to do a job so well that we have no reason to be ashamed of what we have done. At the same time, we would be deluding ourselves if we thought we had nothing to be ashamed of before God, or that our works made us superior to others. In fact, God is so holy and pure that even our righteous acts are corrupt and detestable in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). For that reason, we can only stand before God unashamed, if our sins are forgiven. And forgiveness comes only through the blood of Christ!


    Since a person who wonders, will want to know why others hold the opinions they do, and why they think differently than he does, he cannot help but be open-minded. At the same time, he will not accept every idea that is thrust at him, for he will be wondering if those ideas are sound, if there is any evidence to support them, or if the arguments given in support of them are sound. For that reason, one who wonders will be more stable intellectually than one who does not.
    You will notice that when I speak of being open-minded I am not talking about the pseudo open-mindedness of those who denounce all who disagree with them as narrow. Instead I am talking about a loving spirit who cares enough about others to want to understand what they believe, even if he winds up totally disagreeing with it. Therefore, true open-mindedness does not consist of a willingness to accept every opinion, but of a desire to understand where other people are coming from.

    Have you ever wondered what the word “own” really means? I am not talking about defining the word “own” by a synonym such as the word “possess.” That would be nothing more than replacing one word with another. I am talking about understanding the thought that the word “own” represents. In other words, what do we actually mean by the word “own”? Many people never really think about it, however, we can think much more clearly when we have a clear understanding of what words mean. Therefore, would you agree that every person has a circle of authority? If so, would you also agree that ownership denotes a certain degree of authority or control over what is owned? Are you beginning to understand what I mean when I speak of the idea behind a word? The idea that word was intended to express? Once you begin to think in ideas, you will be less likely to be deceived by cliche and rhetoric.

    Have you ever wondered where the concept of two extremes verses the middle came from, or who determines what is extreme? Have you ever wondered why Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler, who are as alike as two peas in a pod, are portrayed as political opposites?  The answers may surprise you.



    Because the Bible gives us so many things to wonder about, a person who is full of wonder can find God’s Word challenging and stimulating. For example, since every design must have a designer, any rational person might conclude that God exists. However, the Bible lifts our thoughts about God out of the shallows and recasts them in three-dimensional color simply by revealing the mind stretching truth of God’s three-one nature.

    It is easy for those who have never learned to wonder to read their own ideas and assumptions into the text of Scripture. However, someone who is continually wondering if that interpretation is correct, will not be satisfied with anything less than the actual grammatical meaning of the words. For example: When certain people read that God created every living creature “after his kind” they read their own assumptions into the word “kind,” and then assume that the Bible is wrong because we sometimes encounter variation from one generation to the next. Nevertheless, in their haste to have all the answers they have overlooked the obvious. For it is obvious that robins produce robins, bluebirds produce bluebirds, and catfish produce catfish. Furthermore, if we sometimes encounter limited variation from one generation to the next, then the passage was never intended to say that we would not. In other words, it was intended to express the reality we see all around us, not some unrealistic absolute.
    When those who have a gift of wonder encounter something in Scripture that they cannot explain, instead of assuming that the Bible has erred, they wonder what God was intending to say. And because they want to know the intended meaning, they will accept all that the Bible says, while never interpreting one passage of Scripture to contradict another (Isaiah 8:20).


    One spiritual advantage of learning to wonder, lies in the fact that once we have learned to wonder we will be less likely to deny our faults. For instance, if we are accused of being rude, instead of angrily replying, “I am not rude,” we will be wondering why the accuser thinks we are rude. This attitude is of great value in recognizing our sin and thus in seeing our need for forgiveness.