Sometimes things in the Bible take a good bit of work to understand. There are doctrines that have to make us work to wrap our brains around them. But there are other things in the Scripture that are gloriously straightforward.
In Ecclesiastes 7, Solomon gives us a nugget of wisdom that is really helpful in a very common situation. Imagine the scenario. You find out that somebody you know said something unflattering about you. It hurts your feelings. How should you react? Try this.
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.
This is so great. Do not take to heart everything you hear that somebody said about you. Why? You do the same thing to others.
Now, before you get self-righteous, just go ahead and admit this is true. You have not, for the totality of your life, held your tongue. You have said nasty things about others in moments of frustration. You might try to avoid it. You might try not to do it. But you have not been perfect here.
But, wait, you probably didn’t mean it. Right? You probably should get a pass for what you said. You were frustrated. You were hurt. You were bothered. So you spoke. But deep down, you are not a nasty person.
Very good. Now, take the excuses you make for yourself, apply them to the other person who spoke negatively about you, and see what happens. At the end of the day, you should realize that you and the one who said stuff about you are in the same boat. So, the first and best piece of counsel is to recognize that you are just as guilty as they are, so get over it.
There is, of course, more to be done in these situations. We should always try to learn from negative things. Maybe we need to change and repent of something that someone else saw in us. Maybe we need to go and talk with them about hurtful speech and offer forgiveness. But so often, the best move we can make is to start with the understanding that they are only doing to us what we have done to others, that there is probably a reason why they got where they are—just like there was a reason why we got where we were when we spoke negatively about others. And if all that is true, we need to start from a point of grace. Do not take it to heart, because a lot of things are said that will disappear in a moment.