A Little Bird Told Me

May 25, 2023
Volume 27, Number 14

Szu Ta Wu was approached by agents at Miami International Airport in March. He was traveling from Nicaragua to his home in Taiwan, and a faint chirping sound was coming from his carry-on bag. When asked to open his bag to be inspected, Wu pulled out a small egg. He said he didn’t know what the eggs were; he was merely delivering a bag to a friend back in Taiwan. Along the way one of the eggs hatched, and that’s the chirping sound the agents heard.

Wu’s bag contained 29 eggs of two species of parrots. A professor from Florida International University was called in, and he immediately set up a temporary incubator at the airport. Over the next several days, 24 of the baby parrots survived and are being nurtured at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation. On May 5 Wu pleaded guilty to illegal smuggling of birds into the U.S., and he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for his role in this lucrative scheme.

“A little bird told me” is an old saying that means “I have information, but I’m not going to reveal my source.” According to the website phrases.org.uk, the oldest version is from Frederick Marryat’s 1833 Peter Simple, in which this statement is made: “A little bird has whispered a secret to me.” I have heard the phrase used many times in my life, and I’m guessing you’ve heard it often, too.

There’s a variation of the phrase in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes 10:20: “Do not curse the king, even in your thought; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter.” “Be careful what you say” is the principle being stressed.

Jesus affirmed the importance of being careful about our words. In Matthew 12:36 He said this: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” An “idle word” is a word we might speak without first thinking. In the heat of emotions we are prone to hurl insults or to use slanderous words. Is it a trivial thing to “vent” in such a way? Jesus teaches that it’s not trivial at all.

In Matthew 5:22 Jesus gave examples of speaking in anger: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” “I didn’t mean it,” we might argue; “it was just a slip of the tongue!” Will that defense satisfy the Lord?

The story about the parrot eggs addresses a larger idea than just spoken words; it speaks to sins in general. We often think that no one knows about what we have done, and we have thus gotten away with our sin. Numbers 32:23 should teach us differently. In that passage Moses warned some of the people of Israel to do what they had vowed to do: “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Let each of us be sure our sins will find us out. God doesn’t need little birds to snitch on us; He knows all things. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).


Copyright, 2023, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

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