Question posed by a biblical professor:

By MG HenryImage

Why do you think that a Christian would tell another Christian what she/he THOUGHT the other WANTED to hear?

Other= person asking the question  (looking for an honest answer)
Speaker= the one giving an answer (that favors himself/herself)

Approaching this question from several angles, I created some scenarios.
It could be that the Speaker wants to gain favor with the Other and give a response that will sound favorable to the other.
Speaking of favorable, there is the possibility that the Speaker FEARS that he/she will give an incorrect or off the mark and be rebuked so  answers and tries to give a positive response whether completely accurate or not.

The Speaker might not want to displease the Other by giving an answer that might cause challenge, dispute or extensive discussion on the issue.
Another thought is that perhaps the Speaker does not possess much confidence in his own observations and perceptions and so gives a pallid response to the Other person, a timid answer lacking conviction and probably of little, if any, value.
Trying to gain favor in the Other’s eyes is another possible reason that one gives an answer that he THINKS the other wants to hear whether the Speaker agrees with it or not.

How do some people arrive at these false approaches to communication with one’s family, loved ones, bosses, friends, ministers?

Some of it, I believe, is learned.  We observe certain people with whom we have to do. Or we remember our family’s habits and issues.  We learn their reactions and responses to stimuli in their lives; what pleases them; what upsets them; how they react when situations arise in their lives and what brings a favorable reaction from them.  Children do this sometimes in school. As an example, a Kindergarten or first-grade student notes that the teacher gives praise to another student concerning a correct answer.  That little student then tries to repeat that answer to every question the teacher asks because it brought praise when it answered a previous question whether correct or not.
Some people have learned by association what attitudes and responses please certain persons so they might give an answer that will elicit a positive response from the Other .

Another consideration might be that the Speaker cares more about self than the Other person with whom he is supposed to be communicating.  It is a total disregard for truth and integrity and saving one’s own ‘neck’ by giving a response that the Speaker thinks the Other wants to hear.   This, to my way of thinking, is anti-social communication.  It really is lying to the other if in our hearts we are thinking one thing, but fear, pride, intellectual fraud and self absorption come into play, here.

Then there is the proverbial “yes” man. No matter what the situation or circumstance or question the “yes-man” amens everything the ‘Other’ person asks or says whether they agree or not.   Sometimes this backfires and the Speaker is caught by his own devices of deceit.

In one way it is an easy way out but on the other hand it is very dangerous to assume or presume to know what the other person WANTS to hear.  Just basing it on previous experiences is taking a big chance in clear and true communication and a terrible and dangerous habit to develop.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg and I hope this will illicit more responses to this question.


19 thoughts on “Question posed by a biblical professor:

  1. Another ploy the Speaker might use is “flattery” thinking it will gain favor for the Speaker. Some Speaker(s) compliment the Other about their looks or wardrobe thinking they are scoring points. Some Speakers even flatter the Other about their children or grand children which might be dangerous in some instances!
    But flattery is a sin. Proverbs 26:24-28 says,
    “Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” I take it to mean not only ruin for the Other but also for the Speaker!
    So Speaker(s) would best examine their hearts before they present a tapestry of lies and deceit, half-truths and exaggerations. Flattery is an abomination to the Lord!!!

  2. MG, you quoted, “A lying tongue hates its victims…” If someone said “what she/he THOUGHT the other WANTED to hear?”, what does that say about the one who wanted to hear? Would this person want to hear a lie no matter what? Does this person not want to hear truth? That sounds like the speaker is now slandering the hearer. And is the speaker now calling the hearer a liar?

  3. “Why do you think a Christian would tell another Christian what she/he THOUGHT the other WANTED to hear?” seems there is an answer in the blog?…”fear, pride, intellectual fraud, and self absorption”. I guess one could consider some other questions? Why does the Christian “speaker” have fear, pride, intellectual fraud, and self absorption? How can the “other”, as a Christian help the “speaker” rid themselves of it or recognize it? If; indeed, the “speaker” is possibly blinded by sin, emotions, etc. ? ( Just some thoughts that came to mind, as I read this blog.) Maybe the above “rid themselves of it” is only something the Lord and the “speaker” can do, by the “speaker’s” willingness to “face it, admit it, and change it”?????????? MG, you have a tough blog here!

      1. I am also thinking that “what she/he THOUGHT the other ….?” is like the speaker trying to be a mind reader. The definition of mind reader is: “The faculty of discerning another’s thoughts through extrasensory means of communication; telepathy.” That doesn’t sound good.

      2. Debi there is a Scripture that says what you are paraphrasing, really. that the Speaker who flatters with the tongue sets a trap….not only for the Other (Hearer) but for himself. Sort of intimated in the Scripture that says it ‘works ruin”.
        How dare we take these things lightly? Christians beware!!

  4. This is a deep and frightful subject! I have been thinking; I’m not sure I even know what I’m thinking let alone another…..O happy day!

    Hey, bring the soothsayers on and let them tell me what I’m thinking I want to hear. Maybe then I’ll know what I’m thinking.

    Then another funny thought came in my mind; how disappointed the thinker for me would be when they realize I’m not thinking much of anything about them or anything of interest to them!!!!!

  5. I just published a comment on Gary’s blog, “Where is sin and where did it go” right here on the daily Lily a brief review of Charles Stanley’s article “The Privilege Corrupted.” As I review his article and then come back to this mind reading blog I am thinking the answer is simple; the speaker may just have a depraved mind. Romans 1:29….

    1. “depraved mind” Webster defines deprave as “to make morally bad; corrupt”…..Romans 1: 28 says: “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” In verse 30, it says: “They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.”

      “he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done”, (yikes) My Bible has no footnotes for this particular verse. Does anyone have footnotes for this verse, or maybe something in a commentary?

      1. Tammy I found these commentaries online:
        People’s New Testament Commentary has this to say about Romans 1:28: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind. A thought is repeated here that has already been hinted, and is often taught in the Scriptures. The man who turns from the truth will be allowed to have his way, will fall deeper and deeper into error, and will reap all the evil consequences of loving darkness rather than light. Those who hate the truth are given over to a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind is one rejected of God.”
        This is taken from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: “It does not mean that they were reprobate by any arbitrary decree; but that as a consequence of their headstrong passions, their determination to forget him, he left them to a state of mind which was evil, and which he could not approve.”

      2. and, they go on quoting the Bible and acting like with words they are living it while they continue in contrary behavioral patterns. I think this will help us see why we are told by the Word of God to wait and watch for the fruit.

        Have you ever noticed yourself, (I have) almost having a hissy fit to join them. I can say, they changed, just by them saying it….and then not wait to see if there really has been a changed. This takes years for a change. But, my own bad side wants to join them for the big roller coaster ride. Must be something brewing down deep in my soul that can’t wait to catch the newest ride in the park. The old hymn writer knew the answer when he penned:.
        “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
        That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
        He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
        And covers me there with His hand,
        And covers me there with His hand.”

      1. This quote from Sara’s comment above, “Must be something brewing down deep in my soul that can’t wait to catch the newest ride in the park.” makes me think it must be something in us is always seeking a new thrill or amusment to keep the mind and others agitated. This would be the opposite of peace in the mind…”You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3

  6. Sara, that line…from the hymn…”that shadows a dry, thirsty land”….i take it to mean that the ‘soul’ is dry and thirsty in a dry and thirsty land where there is a dearth of the Word of God.
    Debi explained the other day about the water table and how it takes the months of snow and rain over the long period of the the winter months to raise the water table to an acceptable level.
    I guess if the soul that has not been drinking the water of the Word of God is left dry and desolate and only a consistent and long drink of the Living Water that Jesus told the woman at the well about can quench that thirst. [John 4:10]
    A land devoid of the Word of God is indeed dry and thirsting.

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