Bob Tamasy: The True, The Good, And The Useful

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

A story is told about the time someone approached Greek philosopher, Socrates, to tell him something about his friend. Before letting the person proceed, Socrates decided to ask three questions. 

The first was, “Is it true? Are you absolutely sure it’s true?” The individual wanting to share the information wasn’t certain it was true, but presumed it was. Socrates’s second question was, “Is what you’re going to tell me good?” He elaborated, “If not, are you wanting to tell me something that isn’t good, and you’re not certain it’s true?”

Socrates proceeded with the third question. “Even if you don’t know whether what you’re about to say is true, and it’s not good, can you tell me this: Is it useful? Because if what you’re intending to say isn’t good, might not be true, and is not useful, then why say it at all?”

Jay Shetty, described as a motivational and lifestyle blogger, and a former monk, told this story in one of his video posts.

He concluded with this observation: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.”

Does this describe anyone you know? We hear an incredible lot of talk about people – famous, not so famous, and infamous – but how often do the speakers (including ourselves) pause first to ask if what we’re about to say is true, good, or useful?

Apparently, this is hardly a new phenomenon. It dates to the beginning of time, probably. In fact, we have proof. After Adam and Eve defied God by eating from the one tree He had declared off limits for them, Adam not only invented the fine art of passing the buck, but also failed miserably in the true, good, and useful test. 

When the Lord (fully knowing the answer) asked, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you to eat from?” Adam immediately replied, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:11-12). Way to go, Adam! If you’re going to sin, might as well do it big time, right? He even indirectly blamed God for his wrongdoing.

It’s clear that harmful speech has been a perpetual problem afflicting humankind. The book of Proverbs is filled with admonitions against misusing the tongue and its power. For instance, “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (Proverbs 4:24). It also offers this contrast: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

In all, I counted more than 50 verses in Proverbs that address speech in its uses, misuses and abuses. But in case we overlooked that book, God included exhortations in other parts of the Bible. The apostle James wrote about the dilemma of trying to tame the tongue, noting it “is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3:6). Later he concluded, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

Getting back to Socrates’s true, good, and useful criteria for talking about others, the same standard is presented in Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

I don’t know about you, but the next time I start to say something about someone else – a family member, friend, acquaintance, celebrity or politician – I’m going to do my best to first ask, “Is it true? Is it good? Is it useful?”

 

----
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.



"A Place Of Praise" Is Sermon Sunday At Metro Tab Church

Metro Tab Church, 2101 West Shepherd Road in Chattanooga, Highway 153 at Airport exit 1, invites the public to hear the message "A Place of Praise" by Pastor Steve Ball at the 10:30 a.m. worship service this Sunday. "Everyone is invited to come and worship with us," officials said. (click for more)

"Let's Find A Way To Finish" Is Topic Sunday At Middle Valley COG

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Let's Find A Way To Finish,"  in the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday.  This sermon is part of a sermon series titled "Moving Towards Victory."  "This series focuses attention on the reality that God wants to provide victory in the life of each and every believer," officials said.  ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke Plans Affordable Housing Fund, Expansion Of Innovation District; Creation Of Council Against Extremism

Mayor Andy Berke, in his annual State of the City Address on Thursday, said he plans to establishing the city’s first Affordable Housing Fund. He said the city plans to commit $1 million to the fund "that will be used exclusively to aid the creation of affordable and workforce housing throughout Chattanooga. These funds will be used to supplement federal funding, various ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Was Recently Charged With Murder Is Accused In Another Earlier Shooting

Chattanooga Police have charged Britian Crutcher with the September 2017 shooting of LaSandra Burdette. Ms. Burdette, 26, was shot just after 3 a.m. in the 2000 block of Ocoee Street in Avondale. Her vehicle was involved in a minor wreck just before the shooting. The shooter was in another vehicle. Police recently charged Crutcher in the homicide of 28-year-old ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Black Telephone

If you have never seen one in an antique store you wouldn’t know that the first telephones were contained in a not-so-small wooden box that had a snout-looking mouth piece and a separate speaker that you would hold on your ear while you talked. This was many years ago when phones were fun as compared to today’s tiny cell phones that rudely interrupt us from the task-at-hand both ... (click for more)