The Crow and the Canary


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:1-4

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful.   Ephesians 4:29

ONCE THERE WERE two birds, a crow and a canary, who lived in the same tree. The tree shaded a large old house where a brother and sister lived with their mother.

One day the crow said to the canary, “I will light on the ledge of that open window.” He nodded his black beak in the direction of the house. “When the people see me, they will toss me a scrap of bread, and I will sleep with a full stomach tonight.”

The canary watched as the crow flew to the window of the house. He craned his neck and began to caw (as crows do). He cawed and cackled, demanding to be noticed in the most shrill tones. Finally his rowdy cawing was rewarded by a woman, who came into the room—and promptly threw an old shoe at him.

The canary laughed so hard he nearly fell off his perch as the crow flapped back to the tree, looking as if the old shoe had bruised his wing.

“I’d like to see you do better,” he cawed in response to the canary’s musical laughter. “The woman still has at least one shoe left.”

Without a word, the canary swooped down to the window. He folded his wings and began to sing his sweet song. The crow watched in amazement as the same woman appeared and let the canary eat tiny morsels of bread from her hand.

When the canary had eaten his fill, he flew back to the tree, where the crow immediately confronted him.

“She fed you,” the crow said, “because she thinks you are pretty and I am not.”

The canary said, “No, you are wrong.”

“Why did she throw a shoe at me, then?”

The canary answered with closed eyes. “Because I sang for her. You only cawed.”

The difference, you see, was in what they said and the language they used. Of course, a crow cannot sing like a canary. And a canary doesn’t have to practice his song. But you and I can be like the crow or the canary. We can create ugliness with our language or we can create beauty. We can use foul or abusive language, or we can be pure in what we say.

Of course, God commands us to be pure. He makes it clear that “obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God” (Ephesians 5:4). In other words, God says, “Don’t be a crow; be a canary.”

REFLECT: Which are you more like—the canary or the crow (be honest!)? Circle any of the following that are problems for you (be honest!):

         • foul language                                                               • coarse (dirty) jokes                                   • obscene stories

         • abusive language (insults, etc.)                            • foolish talk                                                    • angry words

PRAY: “Dear God, I know that you command purity, even in the things I say. Please help me to obey your commands.”


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