Coffeetime With Brother Andy


When I was a teen in our church youth group, I remember our Youth Leader playing games with us. One game in particular stands out in my memory. Maybe because it was fun, and maybe because it showed that young boy how life really can be.

We would all line up shoulder to shoulder. Our leader would then whisper a short story into the ear of the teen standing next to him. He in turn would whisper what he heard into the ear of the person standing next to him, and so on. By the time the story got back to the originator, it had been, shall we say, “enhanced and embellished.” The altered and expanded version resembled nothing of his original story.

Why did that happen? Because there was one rule; you could not ask any questions of the one who whispered the story in your ear. You could only turn to the next teen and repeat what you thought you heard. As a result, a sentence such as, “The white pig lay sleeping on the floor of the barn,” would easily be heard as “The light pig lay sleeping on all four of the arms.” Then that teen would look at the speaker as if she was an idiot, shrug her shoulders, and turn to tell the next hearer and whisper something to the effect of, “The shy pig came sweeping with four arms?”

Now, let me be clear. Normally, it wasn’t someone who simply decided to create havoc and distort the message deliberately, but it was usually the result of the listener not completely understanding a sentence that was whispered to him. He simply didn’t hear every word clearly, but he was duty bound to pass on to the next player just what he thought he heard. And so on and so on.

Yeah, I know, probably everyone of you readers can recall playing this popular game at some point in your youth. Fun stuff for a group of teenagers. The game was called Gossip, and it was very effective at demonstrating to us why “I’m just telling you what I heard…” is so dangerous and damaging.

Yep, the game is called Gossip, and people are still playing it today. But this isn’t just a fun, innocent game for teens, instead, they are talking about real people, in real life situations. And in the process they are hurting others, and even ruining lives. Beloved readers, you must understand; In today’s world, people would rather believe a lie than believe the truth. And “juicier” the better.

To make the problem even worse, today we have social media that people are using to pass on information, truth or not-so-true. People of all ages are repeating what they were told, and their friends are accepting it, believing it and repeating it….and actually embellishing it as they continue to spread the poison. Rumors, innuendos, and outright lies are out there and are causing great harm and devastation.

Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.” Proverbs 26:22 says, “…the words of a talebearer are as wounds.” Remember, what goes around in a circle comes around. You could be the next one to be hurt from the so-called harmless “…just telling you what I heard.”

The line from the kids’ song, “Oh, be careful little lips what you say…” should become a standard for all of us.