Beware of The Drowning Man
This lesson is about the dangers of listening to what others say. It is said, that it is very dangerous when trying to swim out and save a drowning person. The natural reaction of the one going down, for possibly the last time, is to keep their head above water. In an effort to survive, he can grab hold of the rescuer, and in trying to get another breath of air, drown the person who is trying to help him. Too often, the person, who is trying to save the person, is drowned by the flailing, panicking drowner.
A disgruntled, unhappy person is often much like the drowning man. For whatever the reason they are dissatisfied, they share their unrest and discontentment with others. In most situations, they mean no harm. They are unloading their burden and anguish to others in hopes that the person can say something or change something to stop their dissatisfaction. However, their complaining, or "venting", does much the same thing as the drowning man. He can take the listener down with him.
The one listening may not know what is to follow in the conversation, or genuinely may want to be a consoling ear to the one doing the complaining. Before, the "rescuer" knows what has happened, he too is soon a casualty of gossiping lips that do more than "sink ships," as they used to say during World War II when they referred to those that said more than they should have.
Making oneself a listening post for complaining, gossip, or dissatisfaction can result in one’s having the same thoughts as the one that is floundering. The complaints and gossip can spread like an infectious disease. Soon the grumbler’s frustrations are shared feelings of their audiences. Here are some common scenarios that trap too many:
"Well, maybe that person at work is lazy and making us do his work, like the other person said." "Hmm, Sonya said that the person in the back of class is the one responsible for all the things missing in our class. Maybe he is a thief" "Oh, oh. She thinks her husband is cheating on her; perhaps, mine is doing the same thing." "Things are not the same in church as they were. So-
Here are several guidelines one can keep in mind when they are lending a listening ear:
What the other person is saying is only his side of the story.
If the listener wants to know the truth, he should hear the other person’s side of the situation.
Suggesting to immediately get the other person’s view of what is being said, will often silence what is being said; as the talebearer may know what they are saying is more emotional than factual. "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Proverbs 18:13 "Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" John 7:51 "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Deuteronomy 19:15 "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses." I Timothy 5:19 "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true." John 8:17
Why are they telling me? Can I change the situation for them? Are they just gossiping, backbiting, complaining, or do they just want the situation of which they are speaking handled their way? Can what they are saying result in anything positive? If it is detected that what is being said is for the wrong reasons, change the conversation or walk away from what is being said. Why would anyone want to participate in the other person’s sin? "They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak."Psalm 12:2 "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile."Psalm 34:13 "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue."Psalm 120:2
Is what is being said edifying?
Can it be destructive to my ears, or will it reinforce the problem to them as they tell their problems and make both of us more miserable? Is what is being said going to help or change anything, or is it just gossip? "They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah."Psalm 140:3 "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends."Proverbs 17:9 If a good solution is given to solve the speaker’s dilemma that they are complaining about, will they follow the advice, or will they keep on grumbling to anyone that listens? "Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words."Proverbs 23:9 "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee."Proverbs 9:8
Why am I listening to them?
Am I doing it to be a help, or do I just want to hear some dirt about someone else? "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."Ephesians 4:29 Does their voicing of their grievances bring confusion and division to others? If it does bring negative side effects to others, then their "beefs" are probably not of God. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."I Corinthians 14:33 It is natural for most of us to want to listen to the concerns of those with whom we are in contact. It is also quite natural to want to help them with our suggestions. We must always be aware of what our ears are listening to. Much of the time a person has no idea the damage their words can do to themselves and their listeners. They may not even know they are "drowning" in their trials and tribulations, but a drowning man can take others down with himself. Beware of drowning men. Although some of the quoted scriptures were in a different context, they were used to show a biblically taught principle. "Oh, be careful little lips what you say, for the father up above is looking down in love.