What people say about you doesn’t matter

Have you ever discovered that someone has been telling lies about you? Maybe they haven’t been spreading lies about you around, but they believe a lie about you. Maybe it’s something you did or something you said, and somehow it got lost in translation or it got turned around. Regardless of how it happened or even what happened, you end up the butt of someone else’s antagonism.

It’s easy to believe lies about other people, especially if you don’t know them well. That’s why it’s so important to check all your facts before you take someone’s word for it. Not that anyone would willfully mislead another person (even though some people do). But it’s like those crazy news stories that float around on the internet that can’t possibly be true. It’s always good to check them out on Snopes.com or on other reputable news sites before you start spreading them around. The same is true when it comes to stories about people you know.

But that’s how you handle it when you’re hearing a rumor about someone else. What do you do when you find out that someone is spreading rumors about you?

nature-person-hands-girl_1577x1044Today’s verses are Psalm 109:1-5.

O God, whom I praise,
don’t stand silent and aloof
while the wicked slander me
and tell lies about me.
They surround me with hateful words
and fight against me for no reason.
I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations
even as I am praying for them!
They repay evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

There are lots of ways to handle rumor spreaders. In my experience, it’s often good to address the person directly and kindly. Most of the time, the whole situation has developed because of a misunderstanding. More often than not, no one is truly at fault. There isn’t really a bad guy in the case of a miscommunication.

But every now and then you run into people who just want to hurt people. You can’t reason with them. You can’t explain anything. And even if you try to reason or explain, they won’t listen. They only hear what they want to hear, and they’re deaf to anything else. Ever run into one of those folks? They’re not a lot of fun to talk to, and they’re really not much fun to get into an argument with.

It’s always a good idea to address conflict when it arises. Address it immediately and address it to the person who has a problem with you directly. Address it humbly and graciously. Accept responsibility where you’re responsible, and ask forgiveness if you’ve done wrong. That’s your job as a Christ-follower. Beyond that, you can’t do anything else.

If that person continues to lie about you and spread rumors about you, there’s not much you can do about it. Not to be a downer, but that’s their choice. And it’s not your responsibility. The only recourse you have in that situation is to live the kind of life that contradicts everything they say about you.

Well, that’s not the only recourse, I suppose. You always have the same option David did, just like in this Psalm. He took it to the Lord. He asked God for help, for intervention.

But no matter if that person forgives you and lets it go, or if they continue to hate you and tell lies about you, it’s your job to love that person and pray for them. Honestly. Sincerely. Genuinely. Pray for them. Ask God to bless them. Ask the Lord to be real and apparent in their lives. That doesn’t mean you need to go out of your way to be kind to them, although if you can manage it, you might really shock them (which might be funny). But definitely love them as best you can.

And from there? Just keep moving forward. It’s hard for a people-pleaser like me to accept, but not everyone will like me. Not everyone will love me. The same is true for you too. But it doesn’t matter what people say about you; it matters how you choose to live.

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The ones who matter and the ones who mind

Have you ever been blamed unfairly? I think that’s something everyone experiences. You’re just rocking through life, doing what you do, and somebody comes along and blows up your world when they drop the bomb on you: “You screwed up!”

What do you do when that happens? Do you get angry? Do you respond with a scathing email? Do you crumble in a heap and hate on yourself? There are all sorts of ways to answer an unfair, unfounded accusation. It depends on your personality type. But if you’re a Christ-follower, there’s only one way to react: You react the way Jesus would.

blameToday’s verse is 1 Peter 2:12.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

The whole “WWJD” craze burned out years ago, and it’s a shame, because it was a beautiful concept. What a great idea to give yourself a reminder on what Jesus would do every time you had to make a decision!

But just because you don’t see the WWJD bracelets around anymore doesn’t mean that you can’t still ask yourself the question. And you should. In every situation. Not just the good ones or the happy ones.

What I would love to do when people blame me unfairly is to put up a huge sign where everyone in the world can see it, showing them that I’m right and my accuser is wrong. Isn’t that horrible? I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s what’s really in my heart when somebody points out my wrong when I haven’t done anything wrong.

But I don’t like confrontation, so my passive aggressive version of that is to create characters just like the people who piss me off and put them in novels where I make them look like idiots.

Yes, the ugly truth of my vindictive side.

But Jesus didn’t do that. If he ever told stories about anyone, He just told the truth, and if they came off as idiots, it wasn’t because He embellished. And He didn’t get angry either. When He was unfairly blamed, He just took it and quietly pointed out the truth.

So that’s what we’re supposed to do.

What I’ve learned about people who blame others unfairly is that they’re often jumping to conclusions. They need someone to blame, so they pick an easy target. Or they’re trying to get the Powers that Be to ignore their own screw ups, so they redirect attention to someone else’s screw ups instead.

Dealing with people like this is a two-fold process. The first step is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s learning how to hold your temper and your tongue when people point fingers at you that you don’t deserve.

It takes time to learn how to do it, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. And the more you realize why people are throwing you under the bus (to get the attention off their own shortcomings), the easier it is to deal with.

The second step takes a lot more effort and long-term planning. It’s living a life that contradicts anything negative that’s said about you. It’s conducting yourself with behavior that is above reproach, so that even if someone accuses you of wrongdoing, nobody would believe it.

Wow, can you live a life like that? Jesus did, and that means you can too. No, it doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It just means you need to live the way Jesus did. You make decisions the way Jesus did—not selfishly or anxiously, but with the greater good in mind. Do your best to get along with your coworkers. Don’t get dragged into drama. Try to be a peacemaker. When you make a mistake, take responsibility for it. And always, always do what’s right.

If you live your life that way, it doesn’t matter what anyone accuses you of. No accusation will stick.

If someone has blamed you for something you did wrong, yes, take responsibility for it. Step up. But if you aren’t wrong, respond quietly and gently with the truth and let the pieces fall where they will.

Because the people who mind don’t matter…. and the people who matter don’t mind.