March 26

Written by Bill Grandi on March 26th, 2019

My title is “They say” vs. “I say”

I had already been planning to do a devotion this week on “They say vs I say” or (more truthfully) “They are saying vs It’s really only one or two” but wasn’t sure when, until I read these verses this morning: “As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.” Pr.26:21-23

Have you ever fallen victim to the “they say” phrase? Not us vs them, but the lying death knell of “they are saying.” I have. I have sat in meetings and watched my ministry end because of the barrage of “they say” or “I have heard’s.”  Understand, “they” is supposed to be the collective voice of the people. You know, there are so many who want you out of here…Most often it might be one or two making the rounds. I even caught some leaders being not quite honest. One said, “I’ve been told” and another saying, “So have I” and a third adding his collusion. Each thinking he had heard another voice when the truth was they had heard, but it was the same voice of the same person making his/her rounds. By then, in their minds, it was too late. Damage done. Tongue wagged.

It’s easy to bolster a claim with the multiple “they” instead of the singular (but risky) “I say.” The former hides behind a mask of plurality (and most often duplicity), while the latter risks exposure because it is siingular. But the latter is so much more honest. And, after all, is honesty in speech not what we are supposed to be after?

This principle also applies in teaching and preaching. It’s not enough to say, “The experts say”  or “The historians say” if I don’t have proof. It is dishonest to act as if I have tons of sources backing up my point when I don’t. It is even more dishonest to say, “They say…” if I’ve not seen anyone who has said.

It behooves me or any follower of Christ to get away from the “they say” or “they have been saying” and start using the “I say” or “We feel” or even better “The Bible says.” Being quarrelsome or a whisperer (gossiper) is strictly condemned in the Word. Proverbs 26:21-23 is proof.

“Father, words can be for good or bad. Misused words can be devastating. Misrepresentative. Outright lying. Forgive me, Father, when I have used the “they say” or “I have been told” approach without truly investigating. Help me not to be part of the ‘glazing’ group.”


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ryan S says:

    In situations where one is being accused of something, I feel it is important for those doing the accusing to make themselves known.
    The accused should have an opportunity to discuss with the accuser. It needs to be understood within the culture of the church.

    Mathew 18:15-20 describes how this type of thing should be handled.
    I honestly think the first step, speaking 1 on 1, helps determine if it was a simple misunderstanding.

    step 2, taking 1 or 2 with you helps get another’s perspective, and unbiased participant perhaps

    step 3, takes it to the body, a protection against just a couple people believing a certain way…

    step 4, as painful as it is is decided separation.

    I think too often people skip step 1 and 3 and often step 3 is done anonymously.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      I agree with you Ryan. Accusations made must be backed up in person. I think you have done an excellent job of delineating the steps. Thanks

  2. Pam says:

    True words, Bill. We need to own our words.