other people

Answer me when I call to you,
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies?      
You can be sure of this:
The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent.    
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
and trust the Lord .

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
Let your face smile on us, Lord .
You have given me greater joy
than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord , will keep me safe.

                                    Psalm 4

 

It’s easy to do—becoming consumed by what other people think. No matter what our self-esteem looks like; no matter how self-assured we are it still stings when others criticize, demean and malign us. We don’t want to care what others think, but in reality, we all do.

 

David is no exception. Here he writes in Psalm four and is crying out with the pain because of other people’s opinions.

 

How long will you people ruin my reputation?

 

How long will you make groundless accusations?

 

How long will you continue your lies?      

 

Why do we care? Why can’t we just brush it off? Certainly as we grow older and more mature we learn to care less. And of course, as we deepen our identity in Christ we gain a stronger footing in his opinion of us. But it still stings when others lie about us. It always brings disappointment and heartache when those we thought we could trust turn and harm our reputation.

 

We must remember the Poet’s words here: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him. We don’t belong to those who make unfair assessments and verbal attacks. We don’t gain identity or value from those who lie and judge and unfairly ridicule our decisions and attempts at following well.

 

The Lord sets us apart for himself. He has already decided that we are worth the effort, already determined that even when we disappoint we are important enough to love and embrace. We are his, not theirs. He hears when we call. He does not ignore, does not disparage, does not grow tired of us. We are his.

 

Maybe the problem is one of surrender and humility. After all, why should we care what those others think when God is there saying, “You are mine. I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Why even consider caring about another’s opinion when our Father’s is the only one that matters?

 

Maybe because we like the feeling of earning some love. We like the idea of gaining position and respect because of what we’ve done. God never loves us for what we’ve done. He never appreciates us for how well we behave or live. He’s never impressed with us because of our efforts and achievements. His love is free and unqualified. And free just doesn’t feed the ego.

 

The Lord has sets us apart as his own. He hears our cry. He loves without our need to earn it. Others will always accuse, always lie, always ruin our reputation (after all, they are just like us).

 

Lord, find us in our troubles, have mercy on us and hear our prayer. And may our prayer today be to embrace only what you see and what you know about us. May we stop chasing after the fleeting approvals of others.

 

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