One thing we hear a lot about these days–with justification–is bullying. Especially as school starts up again, I’m sure we’ll see this in the news and on social media.
Certainly, bullying and harassing others is wrong, and should be strongly condemned. This behavior is never acceptable, and must not be minimized. As adults, we need to be unequivocal about this.
I know that we always tried to teach our kids to think about ‘the other person’ and how our comments can either build them up, or tear them down. Our hope, especially as followers of Jesus, is to love people. That cannot happen if I’m bullying or verbally abusing others.
Yet, simply making it our goal to ‘stop bullying’ is only part of the solution.
Another part of the solution is learning to take the opinions of others–positive and negative–less seriously.
I know that, when I went into Junior High at a new school, I was determined to do everything necessary to become ‘popular’. I wasn’t built to win approval through sports, and I didn’t have the drive to win approval through academics. I just knew though, that I could become popular. Popularity became an ‘idol’ for me, and I sought it at all costs.
Surprisingly, it worked! I did gain a degree of popularity in Jr. High, then High School. I had achieved my goal!
Yet, I also knew that others’ opinions of me could change, and if their opinions were ‘everything’ to me, then I was ‘skating on thin ice’, at best. There were ‘cracks’ in my foundation.
When other peoples’ opinions–positive or negative–are given the power to make us feel ‘good’ or ‘bad’ about ourselves, we’ve placed our hope on shaky ground.
The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25).
THAT is where our opinions of ourselves should come from–God, our Creator. HE is the One who’s opinions matters, for real. He created us, He designed us, He knows what is best for us, and He loves us!
In fact, He loved us so much that He pursues a relationship with us, through Jesus.
“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through him, could be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
God, our Father, wants a relationship with us. It is through that relationship that we can experience Life…to the Full (John 10:10)–life the way He designed it to be!
His opinion of us matters, for real…and it is good.
When we learn to build our ‘self-image’ on God’s thoughts about us, then–and only then–will our ‘foundation’ be strong.