21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you just cannot get over what someone has said about you or to you? “How dare they say that,” you wonder. Then you let it roll over in your mind, again and again. What should you do? Should you confront them? Should you force an apology from them. Should you work up a really good response that will put them in their place?
Sometimes the poignant wisdom of the book of Ecclesiastes cuts right through our pretense. The verses above are a perfect example. O how easily we are offended by people’s disrespectful words. Yet we are quick to excuse our own. When we talk coldly about or to others, there is a good reason. When we do it, it is because we are just a little extra tired, or we are frustrated, or we are having a bad day. But those others who speak unkindly toward us, they are just plain mean and should be put in their place. Wait a moment. Could it be that they are human too?
Yes, there are mean people who will say mean things to you and about you. Yes, it hurts, and no one should be silly enough to pretend that it does not. However, let’s be very real. People say bad things to us or about us. We also have said bad things about others. I would that this were not true, but it is. We are sinners. We treat others sinfully; that is just part of being a sinner. So maybe Solomon knew what he was talking about here. Maybe we need to grow a little thicker skin. Maybe we need to realize that, while words hurt, we are all guilty of using them recklessly. Maybe it is time that we be careful not to think of ourselves too highly or others, even those who offend us, too lowly.
Dear Lord, you know how thin skinned I can be. You know that I have a tendency to be deeply hurt by the careless remarks of others. Yet, you know also how easily I will let careless remarks come from my own lips. Help me, I pray, to take this counsel from your word to heart. Help me to not listen too closely to anything other than your word. Help me to not care too deeply for the opinions of others. Let me serve you, and in doing so, let me willingly bear the words of others as Jesus did. Let me not value the kind words of others too highly. Let me not feel cut too deeply by the criticism of others. Let me simply serve you and live for your blessing, “Well done.”