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Don't Give Too Much For That Whistle

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't Give Too Much for that Whistle!

In the writings of the American statesman Benjamin Franklin, there is a little article entitled "The Whistle." In this article, Dr. Franklin tells the story of an incident from his childhood and a lesson that he has learned from it.

"When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My, brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle."

It is a very easy thing to pay too much for a whistle. Many men devote their entire lives seeking the whistles that this world seems to offer.

Some men give their lives in order to try to gain the whistle of prosperity - ever more searching for wealth and the things that wealth might buy. Many men have violated Scriptural principles in such a search. Many have sacrificed their families and their walk with God to pursue the "almighty dollar." Only to find themselves in the end of their lives hearing the words of Luke 12:20 "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

Other men give their lives in an effort to attain the whistle of power - lusting for the sense of being in control of others. Politicians and business leaders have often ran over the "little guy" in an effort to "look out for number one." Yet, in reality, the whistle of power is a fleeting toy, for man does not even have power over himself, let alone power over others. Jesus asked in Matthew 6:27 "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"

Some men give their lives in an effort to gain the whistle of popularity and fame. It is not uncommon for people today to subject themselves to absurdity in order to get a few moments of fleeting fame. People go on reality TV shows and talk shows and make a total fool of themselves because they want to be popular or famous. Many times this whistle of popularity is not sought on a broad scale, but on a small scale, people selling their principles down the river in order to not come across as odd or different among their peers. Teens often sacrifice a right relationship with their parents because they want the whistle of popularity among their friends. Guys and girls often sacrifice their purity or at least their modesty because they want the whistle of popularity with the opposite gender. Rather than fear what men think of us, we need to remember that "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverbs 29:25)

What is the whistle that you are pursuing? Is it a whistle that is really worth all the effort? It is a whistle that is really worth sacrificing that principle or taking that wrong stand?

Perhaps there are some who may read this who are pursuing these whistles of prosperity or power or popularity or something else and think that these pursuits are worth while. If so, you are like the young Benjamin Franklin looking at the whistles and not even realizing the true worth of those items.

Jesus said it best: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

Just my thoughts,


(Note: This is a re-run, it was originally posted in July 2007)


Andy Efting said...


I don't remember your posting this before, so I am glad you re-posted it. Very good. It reminds me of a humorous anecdote that Franklin offered in regard to an offering that George Whitefield was taking up for his orphanage. At first Franklin was determined not to let Whitefield get any of his coppers, but the more Whitefield spoke, the more Franklin's heart melted until he finally decided to empty his pockets and give Whitefield everything. Of course, the way Franklin told it was a classic in and of itself. He was quite a writer.

Frank Sansone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Sansone said...


Thanks for the comment. It is kind of interesting that as I read this it actually interracted with my sermon this morning, although I did not make the connection until I just re-read the article.

(I preached on Matthew 6:19-34 this morning on Seeking and Serving God First.)

Franklin definitely has some interesting writing. Would to God that Whitefield's prayers for his conversion would have been answered.

BTW, you can find the story you reference in Chapter 10 of the Autobiography of Ben Franklin - found (among many other places) at

(I don't remember how to do links in comments.)