When I was in my third year of teaching mathematics, I made a small poster of a quote from Regina Brett that said “What other people think of you is none of your business.” It stands to reason that if a person thinks it, they will say it (especially a teenager). Everyone has the right to their own opinion. No person has the privilege to dictate what someone else can or cannot think.
Yet just because you think it, that does not mean you should say it. I remember a time when a young lady came to my classroom during her lunch break because she was upset about what some other students were saying about her. I don’t remember exactly what all she told me. Frustratingly, I can’t even remember her name, but I do recall how much I loved having her in my class and that she was a good student. I remember what she looked like, her outfit, her tears, and how shocked and sad it made me to hear her explanation that day.
If my memory serves me correctly, it had something to do with the fact that she was attracted to another girl and people were saying rude things about it. As a Christian, it put me in an awkward position. I could not personally condone this young lady’s choice, but neither could I condone students being rude to her. What she needed in that moment was respect. She needed someone to validate that she was hurt with words and that she needed help to solve the problem. I believe after our conversation we walked down to her counselor’s office for further advice.
What would this lady say about me today? It was no secret that I believed in God and upheld His standards. Yet of all the teachers she could have gone to, she came to me. She would say, “Mrs. Harvey was someone I trusted because I knew she cared and she was fair.”
What would others say about you? Does that determine who you are? As a Christian, your identity comes from what God says about you because He created you. You are the effect of His cause. He created you in His own image (Gen. 1:27). He knit you together in your mother’s womb and He knows the number of hairs on your head (Ps. 139:13; Matt. 10:30). Paul wrote, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…and shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:8, 10). Why? Because that is how God demonstrates His love for us. He loves us as a perfect Father (1 John 3:1; Luke 15:20-24). Jesus said that you are valuable (Matt. 10:29-31). Therefore, even though you have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and deserve the punishment of death, God gave you grace through His Son, that all those who believe in Him will have everlasting life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; John 3:16). He says that we have a future as citizens of heaven (Rom. 8:18; Phil. 3:20).
Furthermore, God says that you represent Him. He has chosen you. He has called you (2 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 17:14). You are now a saint, a servant and soldier of Christ, and a steward of God’s grace (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:10; 2 Tim. 2:3). Therefore, walk as children of the light, like light from a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Eph. 5:8; Matt. 5:14). If you are reading this and think “What if I am not representing God very well?”, know that you have the power to change that. If you need help, pray about it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). God will give you what you need, be it more of His strength or perhaps putting someone in your path who can help you.
Our reputation can proceed us. Sometimes we do foolish things in our adolescence which people do not forget. Other people say things for others reasons. Maybe you were an alcoholic, a bully, a gossiper, a murderer, etc. The blood of Christ has the power to wash away those things. Do not for one second let others who won’t forgive you allow you to forget nor forsake your identity in Christ.
Maybe people say things about you because you are living according to God’s standard but the world finds it peculiar. Take pride in it because they did the same thing to Jesus. Remember that as you seek God and His glory, He is transforming you into the image of His Son (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a journey and we have to trust what God does for us in that journey.
Finally and most importantly, what others say about you will have an end, but what God says about you will last for eternity. Your goal is to hear God say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”