Last Sunday our pastor, Lance Quinn, gave us some really good practical advice on testing what we hear.
"There are three questions we must always keep in mind when we’re hearing any and all kinds of information about things or people:
1. What is the precise nature of what you are hearing? In other words, is the information being told to you either true or false? This is always the first and most important question you must discern when you are listening to the words of someone else. Before you ever speak to someone else regarding the information you’ve heard, you must precisely check its validity. This takes a great deal of discernment and might also take a good bit of investigation, especially in order to protect the innocent. We could call this first question the truth test. Test what you’ve heard and see if it’s true before you pass it along to another. If it doesn’t have the ring of truth to it, don’t believe it! If it doesn’t pass the smell test, don’t even sniff it! Refuse to bite on anyone else’s juicy morsels of gossip! The truth test will motivate you to be precise with how you handle what you hear. Listen carefully before you speak. Your personal motto should therefore be: I’m a forceful discerner of truth and a fierce deflector of lies!
2. To whom are you passing the information along? Are they a part of the problem or the solution? If they are neither a part of the problem nor the solution, then don’t share with them what you’ve heard! Be discerningly deaf to the things that don’t concern either yourself or the others with whom you’re engaging in conversation. If what you are passing along is false, you are passing on an evil report. We could call this second question the tongue test. The tongue test will help guard you before you pass along any unnecessary or hurtful information either to or about others. Your personal motto should therefore be: I’m a fearless defender of others and a forgetful dealer in gossip!
3. What will this information produce in those I tell? Will the information build them up or tear them down? Will it produce help or harm in those I’m talking about? This third question is designed to check your own heart before you pass along information either to or about someone else. We could call this third question the tarnish test. Why do I desire to pass on this information? Would it serve to tarnish reputations or enhance them? Solomon says paying attention to false information produces wickedness in those you tell. It only serves to tarnish others. Don’t spread falsehoods because they will poison those around you, as well as produces evil thoughts about others. Don’t use wicked information to produce more wickedness. The tarnish test therefore serves to curb your own producing of false and damaging information regarding others. Testing your own heart of love or hate for others will inevitably increase or decrease your production of information. Hatred of others will serve only to increase that producing of information when you know that information will be hurtful and injurious to them. Love for others will only serve to decrease the producing of such information when you know that information to be unloving and unedifying. Your personal motto should therefore be: I’m a fervent discoverer of my motives and a faithful demonstrator of love.
The Truth Test has to do with the Precision of Information. Is it true or false?
This concerns the “what” of my hearing. Be a forceful discerner of truth and a fierce deflector of lies!
The Tongue Test has to do with the Passing of Information. Does this person need the information I’m sharing?
This concerns the “who” of my speaking. Be a fearless defender of others and a forgetful dealer in gossip!
The Tarnish Test has to do with the Producing of Information. Will it tarnish or enhance the reputation of others?
This concerns the “why” of my words. Be a fervent discoverer of your motives and a faithful demonstrator of love."
Grace upon grace,