One of the lies we moderns like to tell ourselves is that “it doesn’t matter what other people think”. For most of us, it is a lie we tell to justify an unpopular action we decide to take or to excuse ourselves from right action we choose not to take. What we really mean, however, is that in a particular instance or situation we value our own desires over the opinion or thoughts of a particular person or group of people. It’s not uncommon for people to do this, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t care what other people think.
To the extent that it concerns doing what’s right or going against the cultural grain, it’s a very noble and important to not care what people think. There will always be some who try and encourage us to take the easy road. However, it is never a good thing to take the position that the choices we make and the way we live our lives is nobody’s business but ours and those nearest and dearest to us. It’s cliche but true: Our lives are the closest thing to a Bible -or hypocrisy- some people will ever get.
I recently had two occasions to consider the truth of this in my own life. In one instance, it seemed I was a positive influence. On the other, I was just the opposite. The person who extolled me as a positive example was someone who doesn’t live with me, which is telling on its own, though she knows me enough to have experienced that I am far from perfect. The negative example was front and center in the behavior of one of my children. It was a fairly spot on imitation of me in my most impatient and temperamental moments.
The latter instance pretty quickly sucked the wind from my self-righteous sails that had been lifted only a few hours earlier by a friend’s compliment. I was reminded of how quickly we forget that the people in our lives are taking notes, whether for good or ill and we are walking testimonies of what we believe, whether conscious of the same, or not.
Most important of all of course is that we all live in the presence of God, Who sees it all anyway.