Ever walked into the middle of a group of people who suddenly got strangely silent when you stepped into the room? Or maybe they tried to change the subject? You knew they were talking about you! Maybe you’ve accidentally overheard someone speaking negatively about you. Or perhaps word has gotten back to you about something someone said about you that simply wasn’t true. The reality is that we’ve all had people talk about us behind our backs. And we’ve all had people discourage us right to our face! It’s human nature to find ourselves offended and hurt by what other people say about us.
There’s an interesting passage of Scripture that speaks to this in Ecclesiastes 7:21-22. God says, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.” Bottom line: before you get overly sensitive when you find out that someone’s been talking about you, remember that you’ve done the same thing, at some point, to someone else!
But let’s go back to God’s initial word on the matter: “Don’t take to heart everything people say.” That’s a powerful admonition and yet often extremely difficult to follow. We are wired to thrive off the approval and praise of other people. The problem with living this way is that when we thrive off praise, we die from criticism. The Lord didn’t design us to live this way!
The reality is that people are just people. No matter someone’s status, position or possessions, we are all made in God’s image and no one is more important in His sight than anyone else. So… in light of this, it really shouldn’t matter what anyone else says about me! When I first read this Scripture, I thought of David and Goliath. When David was a young shepherd boy with no military experience whatsoever, he was moved by God to defeat this boisterous giant who had smitten the entire Israeli army with fear. His brothers discouraged him. Others in the military discouraged him. King Saul discouraged him. And yet, when no one else believed in David, he chose to draw His strength from the Lord. He recalled how God had come through for him in the past, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).
Good thing David didn’t take to heart what others said about him! Had he listened to others, he would have never defeated Goliath and would have probably never become King. Taking to heart what other people say can have catastrophic consequences and can rob us of our God-given destiny.
Instead of taking to heart what others say, the alternative is to take to heart what God says about us. He declares that I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). That I am blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). That I am the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). That the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in me! ( Romans 8:11). There are multitudes of verses and passages in God’s Word that speak to who we are in Christ and what God says and thinks about us.
Let’s commit ourselves this year to believing what He says and brushing off what they say.