Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

People’s opinions can be a trap

I took an abbreviated Myers Briggs personality test the other day and came back as an ISFJ. It’s not the full test, but it’s fairly accurate, I think, which is kind of amazing. One of the points that really stood out to me in the description of what an ISFJ is, was the part about needing positive feedback and dealing with harsh criticism. I like to tell myself that I don’t care what people think, but it’s not true. I try not to let it bother me, but deep inside, people’s opinions matter. People’s opinions are an extension of who they are, and if people don’t have a positive opinion of me or of my writing or of anything I care about, I tend to take it personally.

But you can’t live that way–basing your life on other people’s opinions. Well, maybe you can live that way, but it’s not healthy or productive. People’s opinions change and oftentimes they are based on untruths or bias. It’s good to get opinions. It’s good to seek opinions. But it’s rarely wise to build your life on them.

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 29:25.

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the Lord means safety.

Be careful of other people’s opinions. Don’t misunderstand me: opinions are good. And it’s good to voice your opinions if they’re constructive and humble and well-intentioned, but if you’re going to voice your opinion, recognize that your word isn’t gospel. People have a right to disagree with you, and just because they disagree doesn’t mean they hate you. That’s part of the problem in America right now. We have this idea that disagreeing with someone equals hate or dislike, and that’s not true. Disagreement is one of the things that made this country. Disagreement is healthy. No one who is honest will believe that everyone will agree on every topic.

So be free to voice your opinions, but be okay if people disagree with you.

And if you’re an ISFJ like me, remember that people are certainly entitled to their opinions but that doesn’t mean you have to change your life to suit them.

You can trust people, yes, but remember that people are broken. People are flawed. People misunderstand and jump to conclusions and make decisions based on bias and prejudice. The one opinion you can fully trust is God’s. Why? Because He’s God. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t fly off the handle and change His mind at the drop of a hat. He doesn’t have biases or prejudices to color His judgment. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda that dictates His actions. His only agenda is the same one He’s been obvious about since the beginning of time.

It’s easy to trust people’s opinions because they’re loud about them and if you’re naturally an introvert or one of those types of personalities, it’s easy to follow. But remember that you have to be careful who you decide to follow. If you’re going to follow, make sure it’s someone who knows where they’re going.

Getting the opinion of a trusted friend is a good idea. Always. If it’s someone you know is grounded in truth, someone you know is dedicated to doing what God says is right, you can trust their opinion because they trusted God first. But when it all comes down to the end, it’s not going to be you and all your friends and God who have to give a reason for why you made the decisions you made. When the clock of the universe stops ticking, the person who will be responsible for your choices in life is you. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not your friends. Not even God.

You make choices every day, and you can choose to follow the crowd or follow God’s word. When it comes to an opinion, who do you think is going to be more trustworthy?

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