Points to Ponder: Who Cares What People Think?
Points to Ponder
Who Cares What People Think?
A paragraph out of the devotional "Our Daily Bread" got me to thinking about perceptions. In the March 21st reading, Vernon Grounds writes about the "strong man" Sylvester Stallone, who won fame and fortune in his movie roles as Rocky and Rambo. But in real life, Stallone honestly admitted to an interviewer, "If I were watching a home movie of my life, I would shake my head in despair and wonderment. It is a comedy of errors."
Have you ever seen a home movie of yourself? Of course we all have photos we hate because they make us look bad. Funny thing is: YOU "made" the photo, it did not make you.
I'm reminded of my brief stint in college as an employee of Social Security Administration. I had to issue new photo I.D. badges to the employees. One woman came to get hers done, and she handed me her old badge from something like 1969. She wanted me to clip out that photo and tape it on the new card. Think that one through. She wanted to carry an identification badge that did not honestly reflect who she really was. It was the image of her, but she no longer bore that image in herself. Yet she wanted to cling to it. The officer guarding the door would look at the badge and then at her and clearly see the mismatch. What is the point in all this? Perceptions. To a greater or lesser extent, we care about how people perceive us; and we care about how we perceive ourselves. Some people are in counseling because either or both of these concerns has become distracting or debilitating.
I have learned in life that perceptions are imperfect. Sometimes what we, or other people, perceive is completely out of line with the facts. We are so sure of what we saw or what we thought we heard that we will invest a lot of energy and emotion into making judgments that are harmful. We have all done it. It destroys relationships and cripples churches as well as other organizations.
But let me take this a step further. Because we are so often concerned with other people's perceptions of our actions or motives, we will sometimes hesitate to make a move. A word that needs to be spoken remains hidden for fear of someone's opinion. A controversial decision must be made, but somebody is going to be upset. So we sit on it. Of course sometimes it is wise to remain silent.
"...a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips he is considered perceptive." Proverbs 17:28
"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23
It is also good to seek counsel, pray, and meditate so that you can be sure you are acting according to righteous motives.
"Where there is no counsel the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14
"The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous." Proverbs 15:24
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Words of Jesus, Matthew 18:20
To live a godly life and to follow the Lord's standard, "the harder right", will often put you in tough situations. The perceptions of others may be neither kind nor accurate. Perhaps you will be misjudged; however, There comes a time when you must stand against the current of the world's way, and speak up.
There comes a time when you will have to step up and step out because it is the right thing to do. I keep a bright red sign right alongside of my seminary diploma (a great place for it in my case). In white letters it reads: What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular.
Right next to that, directly in my line of vision is a big picture of Jesus Christ. I put that there so I would always have a reminder of who my boss is, right in front of me. I must admit that sometimes I have balked at saying or doing what I know is right because I was swayed by the perceptions of others. Sometimes that was a good self-check; other times it was a subtle desire inside to stay in my comfort zone.
Have you been there? Are you there right now? When you begin to compromise or justify your decisions because of what others will say or do, remember that perceptions (yours and theirs) are imperfect and sometimes quite inaccurate. The more you seek to follow Christ, the wider the gap will be between what you are trying to do and what others perceive. There is only one perception that its always perfect. It is the only one that really matters: What does Jesus think? How does He perceive the matter? What does He tell you to do? Jesus told us that following Him will get us into trouble. It is a mark of true discipleship.
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven for they so persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12
Prayer is great. Discussion is useful and necessary. But there is a time to act. For you, is that time right now?
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