“Beware of the Drowning Man!”

Bill Brinkworth

It is said, that it is very dangerous when trying to swim out and save a drowning person. The natural reaction of the one going down, for possibly the last time, is to keep their head above water. In an effort to survive, he can grab hold of the rescuer, and in trying to get another breath of air, drown the person who is trying to help him. Too often, the person, who is trying to save the person, is drowned by the flailing, panicking drowner.

A disgruntled, unhappy person is often much like the drowning man. For whatever the reason they are dissatisfied, they share their unrest and discontentment with others. In most situations, they mean no harm. They are unloading their burden and anguish to others in hopes that the person can say something or change something to stop their dissatisfaction. However, their complaining, or “venting”, does much the same thing as the drowning man. He can take the listener down with him.

The one listening may not know what is to follow in the conversation, or genuinely may want to be a consoling ear to the one doing the complaining. Before, the “rescuer” knows what has happened, he too is soon a casualty of gossiping lips that do more than “sink ships,” as they used to say during World War II when they referred to those that said more than they should have.

Making oneself a listening post for complaining, gossip, or dissatisfaction can result in one’s having the same thoughts as the one that is floundering. The complaints and gossip can spread like an infectious disease. Soon the grumbler’s frustrations are shared feelings of their audiences. Here are some common scenarios that trap too many:

On and on the opinions and observations of others can go into listening ears, and can do damage done by intentional or unintentional words. Most often, we do want to help, and that is why we listen. However, words said often turn into improper or unjustified judgments or actions by the listeners.

Here are several guidelines one can keep in mind when they are lending a listening ear:


It is natural for most of us to want to listen to the concerns of those with whom we are in contact. It is also quite natural to want to help them with our suggestions. We must always be aware of what our ears are listening to. Much of the time a person has no idea the damage their words can do to themselves and their listeners. They may not even know they are “drowning” in their trials and tribulations, but a drowning man can take others down with himself. Beware of drowning men.

Although some of the quoted scriptures were in a different context, they were used to show a biblically taught principle.

  Oh, be careful little lips what you say, for the Father up above is looking down in love …” — Words from a child’s Sunday school song


This lesson was featured in The Bible View #261.

  The Fundamental Top 500