This little article had Sarah and me in stitches.
Of course we were laughing with the poor guy, not at him because we’ve all been there at some point in our life, completely mishearing something leading to confusion. I remember my mum’s perplexed concern when I arrived home from school fresh from our first ever acting lesson to announce we’d been taught about Brahma. Meanwhile, how many youngsters have sung confidentiality about a little cross-eyed bear called Gladly?
We know that things get lost in communication and translation and that’s the basis for the old party game of “Whispers” where one child whispers a message to another and it is passed on until something completely different is communicated to the final child.
If it’s a party game or an amusing tale about misunderstood quotes then we have very little to worry about part from our dignity. However, miscommunication and mishearing can become extremely serious. It becomes serious when we fail to communicate God’s Word accurately. That’s why I’ve spent so much time over the years getting people to read and re-read Bible passages and to do basic comprehension questions so that we learn not to confuse what we think the text says with what it actually says.
It also becomes serious when it leads to rumours, gossip and slander. How often have people come to conclusions based on second-hand hearsay. Someone makes a throw away comment, this is then reported out of context to someone else, exaggerated to a third person and then said in the presence of someone who should be in the know and out of a desire not to cause a scene remains silent. Their silence is seen as affirmation and so the rumour takes hold. It’s even worse when people wilfully allow a false rumour to circulate unchallenged because it suits their agenda and distracts from other concerns.
Christians have a responsibility to value truth and guard the tongue. Before you pass on a rumour, check that it is true and ask yourself if it is helpful or unhelpful to repeat it. Take time to clarify that you have not misheard things and to check that there is a factual foundation behind claims before believing them or acting on them. Finally, if you are in a position to correct a misunderstanding, don’t let that opportunity pass you by out of fear of causing a scene.
Let’s make an effort in 2021 to speak the truth in love.