Does it matter what others think?
It’s your life; you can live it however you want, right?
In our culture, what matters most is what is best for the individual—regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. Should we really bother with thinking about other people’s thoughts? Is it worth the added time, stress, effort, and possible discomfort? The Bible seems to think so.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom. 12:17–18)
Twice Paul emphasizes how important it is for us to be concerned with what others think. We should think about actions that are honorable and upright to everyone, not just ourselves. We are to live peaceably with all people, not just those whom we easily get along with.
These imperatives are, of course, grounded in the ultimate action of Jesus Christ, taking upon himself all evil so that we would have peace with God.
Paul is adamant to strike this chord for one simple reason: we are not alone. Every person is connected to someone, and that someone to someone else. This interconnectedness, or community, means that no man is an island.
We do not live in isolation; instead, we are part of a collective fabric of humanity. What we do affects others. This is why it’s so important to consider not just whom you are marrying, but the family you are marrying into. And the same is true for the family: they will have to learn how to put up with you.
So does it matter what people think? You bet! While we should always seek God’s approval over man’s, who we are and what we do affects our neighbors’ view of God and the faith we profess. As the apostle Peter reminds us,
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Pet. 2:12)