It plays in the mind, something like this: He’s speaking today? – I don’t want to listen to that Pastor – he handled my friend’s situation so badly. She’s here? – I don’t like her – she hurt my friend. I don’t want to sit here – that person sits nearby. I won’t be his friend – I’ve heard he’s not a man of integrity. In the mind, clouds hang over this person, but there are two things in common with each scenario. First, these tainted opinions are not based on personal experience, and second, they are opinions formed after having heard only one side of the story. Proverbs 18:17 says, that any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight. Unfortunately, a lot of damage is done in the meantime.
I submit that while another’s reputation is being destroyed, often the destroyer believes that they are fully justified, or that no one is really getting hurt. I also submit that usually, a liar completely believes their own lies, and that they are extremely skilled, and can be very convincing. Lastly, I submit that these influences always hurt – always. Whether the subject ever knows or not, they have been discredited, and at the very least, they will wonder why other people treat them the way that they do.
If your ears hear a negative word, or your eyes see a negative expression, a red flag should go up. Immediately begin asking yourself questions. Do I have the entire story? Does this match up with my own personal experience with this person? Do I even have a personal experience with this person? Does the person that is influencing your opinion, stand to gain something by swaying you? You’ll need to dismiss attempts to negatively influence your opinion. You’ll need to give the subject person a chance to live out their own representation of who they really are. What’s the best way to stop the contamination from spreading? Simply cast it away, and then the next time that you have the opportunity, open your heart and mind to the slandered person, or allow your previous high opinion of them shine through, and be your influencer.