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.


Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Gather For Conference On Christ

U-Church Hosts An Evening Of Worship Nov. 18

Metropolitan Tabernacle Church Continues Series On Secrets Of A Giant Killer


Some 1,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the greater Chattanooga area gathered for a conference on Christ. Held every May and November, the conference is held ... (click for more)

Lee University’s fall U-Church series will conclude with “An Evening of Worship: Come to the Table” on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conn Center. This semester’s evening is themed, ... (click for more)

A series at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church continues this at Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Dr. Steve Ball senior pastor will preach from his book Secrets Of A Giant Killer on the subject of "Big Bad ... (click for more)


Church

Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Gather For Conference On Christ

Some 1,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the greater Chattanooga area gathered for a conference on Christ. Held every May and November, the conference is held at the Stake Center (meetinghouse) at 3067 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road. The conference is always open to the public. Ester Helton of the East Ridge City Council, Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson, ... (click for more)

U-Church Hosts An Evening Of Worship Nov. 18

Lee University’s fall U-Church series will conclude with “An Evening of Worship: Come to the Table” on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conn Center. This semester’s evening is themed, “Songs We Love to Sing.” The set list is made up of songs students described as their favorites, based on an Instagram poll released by LeeU Worship. The band will lead songs such as “Here ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Planning Commission Recommends Denial For Permit For Ooltewah Sewage Treatment Plant

The Planning Commission on Monday afternoon recommended denial for a sewage treatment plant for Ooltewah on Mahan Gap Road. The final decision will be by the County Commission, which will hold a zoning committee meeting on Dec. 12 and a regular session on Dec. 19. Opponents to the project overflowed the meeting room at the County Courthouse and dozens who could not get inside ... (click for more)

Man Shot And Killed Monday Morning When Police Officers Respond To Shots Fired Call

Chattanooga police officers responded to a shots fired call at 6:13 a.m. on Monday in the 5000 block of 15th Avenue. A reporting party said the suspect was walking in the street, displaying a firearm, and firing shots at houses. Upon arrival, officers encountered an armed male suspect matching the description given by the reporting party. Officers engaged with the suspect, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Thanks To First Volunteer Bank

Thank you to the Highway 58 branch of First Volunteer Bank. On behalf of the Ernie Pyle Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, I would like to express our appreciation to the manager and staff of the HIghway 58 Branch of First Volunteer Bank for putting on a Veterans Day lunch in the lobby of your bank on Friday, Nov. 9. It was a cold and rainy day and Army, Marines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Pete, Never Forget’

Sometimes I don’t tend to myself quite like I should. Think of it as a bad habit. So last week I took some time away from the computer, away from my morning readings and newspapers and TV, so I could tap my reset button. Things happen when you get old and some of them aren’t good. Thank goodness there is hardly anything today that has no solution if you keep trying and stay in the ... (click for more)