“How long will you people ruin my reputation?” Psalm 4.2
Is there any worse feeling than the one you get when you discover people are talking bad about you, perhaps even ruining your reputation? How do you react? What do you do to correct the wrong committed by this slanderer?
Truth be told, I … and I think most of us … tend to be ready for a good fight when people speak ill of me. If we can prevent people from speaking poorly of us, then perhaps we will look better to others. Achieving this is worth whatever fight needed to accomplish it, isn’t it?
On the other end of the spectrum, we might want to work extra hard to prove by our actions that others are wrong. We see this in the stories of individuals who in unhealthy ways obsess with doing the very thing someone said they could not do. A small, offhanded comment about being overweight, lazy, or good-for-nothing changes the entire trajectory of someone’s life, and not for the better.
The author of Psalm 4 gives us another option, which I would outline as follows:
First, he appeals to God, asking God to declare him innocent.
Second, he admits that his trust and confidence is in the Lord. The Lord is the one who will provide the proof of the writer’s innocence. (Perhaps we need to be less about our Father’s business and more about letting God do what he does best.)
Third, he pauses. How much better would our reaction to the “wrongs” against us be if we regularly made “think about it overnight and remain silent” our go-to response for people who bring accusations against us? It’s hard to do, no doubt, but it also shows our full commitment to the second point: we trust that God will prove us innocent and therefore we do not have to do so.
Last, the writer recognizes the joy that comes from God, joy that far exceeds what others have, even when they have it in abundance.
So, the final result for this writer: he lies down in peace. He knows the Lord will keep him safe and so has no need to worry or fret. Anyone who has tossed and turned throughout the night recognizes the significance and blessing of being able to lie down and actually sleep.
When people bring false accusation against you, how do you sleep?
Praying that you find rest and sleep in the middle of the accusations.
When something good happens in your life, you come through some sort of trial or challenge, what is your first response? A pat on your own back? Praise to God for what he has done? How can we remind ourselves to praise God for bringing us through the trials of our life?
If you were asked by someone to “tell them something good,” what would you tell them? Make a list of ways God has been good news for you.
Here’s a challenge for you this week: When someone says something about you or in such a way that your first response is to fire back a harsh response, say nothing and think about it overnight. If necessary, respond to their comment at that point, but not before then.
How do we ignore the wise counsel that if often right in front of us? How can we be sure to listen to this counsel?