The Quasi-Stoicism of Ecclesiates

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
(Ecc 7:20-22)

How can you deal with people who speak ill of you?

The Bible is clear that death and life are in the power of the tongue and that those who understand it will reap the fruits thereof.

But what of the power of the tongue being used against you? Does the Bible tell us how to deal with this?

Well, in the passage above, it basically says to remember three things:

  1. Everybody sins, so don’t be shocked when people sin against you.
  2. Don’t internalize the evils said against you (as your servants…or children, students, employees, parishoners, and friends are bound to say at some point).
  3. Remember how frequently you’ve spoken ill of others.

If you can keep these three things in mind, I think you’ll have a much more effective mindset with respect to criticism, insult, and social shaming techniques in general.

A final thought is, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. (Pro 17:10)” If you take insults as rebukes that either contain good advice or worthless advice and are typically tainted by your sinful tendency to be offended or their sinful tendency to insult, then you’ll go far in over coming the need to respond at all.

Summary: Don’t internalize insults unless they contain lessons that will improve you.

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