The Standard June 23, 2022
Last week a friend told me that at her job she was just about to have a major confrontation with a co-worker. This gal repeatedly had called the person’s office within their building, but the person never would answer. My friend was sure she was being dismissed rudely and it made her angry. When she went to confront the co-worker, it turned out the person’s work phone was on the fritz. No calls were coming in or going out.
How many times have you heard someone say that so-and-so ignored them or would not speak to them? My husband would respond, “So, did you speak to them?” Have you ever had someone think you intentionally did not respond to their question or instruction when actually you did not hear them? Most of us have been in situations where our actions or lack of actions were misinterpreted because onlookers did not know all of the story. Things appeared one way when, in reality, they were very different. Most of us have been guilty of making negative, false assumptions about others, and also have been on the receiving end of such negativity.
A good number of older adults reveal that they have learned to care much less about what others think. Maturity has given them the freedom not to worry about being misperceived. In response to hearing that someone judged them in a negative light, they calmly think, “If the shoe fits wear it. If not, kick it off.”
There were times when Jesus corrected the record about his ministry and character, but there were also times when he said nothing in the face of false accusations. Jesus’ attitude never was defensive.
“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.” (Matthew 27:11-14)
“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him. ‘We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree. The high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” (Mark 14:55-61)
It is understandable that as Christians we want our actions and attitudes to be consistent with our profession of faith. Scripture gives us much guidance for this. No matter how consistently we try to live, however, there always will be those who misinterpret what we do or say or misrepresent them altogether. Often, it is best not to respond.
The old adage that “there are two sides to every story” bears repeating. Half-truths and false portrayals abound, and we must be careful to avoid them when speaking about others. There is freedom in worrying less about what folks think and not entertaining criticisms about those around us. “Am I now trying to win the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)