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  • Dr. Andy and Renie Bowman

Fooled By What You See

Tom lived in Smallsville. Everybody knew each other, and they all knew each other’s routines and habits. Tom had grown up in that town, and all the citizens of Smallsville knew of Tom’s rough and reckless lifestyle since his teen years.

But one day Tom finally recognized his probable future by looking over his shoulder at his past. Making his decision, right then and there he asked God to help him make a change. He became an active and faithful member of a local church, serving and helping others wherever he could. Folks definitely saw and enjoyed a new Tom in their town.

However, one day he was summoned to meet with the pastor and a group of the church’s leaders. The purpose of the gathering was soon made clear when Widow Johnson cleared her throat and crossed her arms over her chest. Through tightly pursed lips, she began addressing the group.

Seems the night before, she had witnessed Tom’s weathered red Ford truck parked out in front of his former local watering hole for an extended period of time. “He must have spent the entire evening drinking at that bar, because with my own two eyes, I saw his truck parked out in front for hours,” she stated vehemently. Glaring coldly at the offender, she then declared him backslidden and in need of church discipline.

The wise old pastor slowly turned to face Tom. Taking a deep calming breath, he then asked the young man if he would like to speak on his own behalf and give an explanation that would clear this up. They all listened as Tom patiently explained that his truck had broken down on the way home from work and he had coasted to a halt – admittedly stopping in front of the bar. By the time he had been able to get it towed, his truck had indeed been in that parking lot for hours.

Despite his explanation of the facts, Mrs. Johnson still adamantly believed what she had seen with her own two eyes. The rest of the group agreed that prayer seemed to be the only answer for Tom and Mrs. Johnson. The meeting was adjourned after Tom assured them that he would definitely be aware where he parked from now on.

That night Tom was very deliberate where he parked before walking on home to his house. Tongues began wagging early the next morning, as Smallsville woke up to see Tom’s red truck parked in front of Widow Johnson’s house.

Ouch.

As Widow Johnson discovered to her dismay, just because you saw or heard something doesn’t make it an actual fact. “That’s exactly what I saw,” or “That’s precisely what I heard” can sometimes create conclusions that are based on assumption. And even if it is fact, nothing good comes from passing along gossip that is hurtful. As grandpa said years ago, “God shore enuff gave us two ears and one mouth, maybe we ought’ta listen twice as much as we talk.”

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