Have you seen all those memes about removing negativity and negative people from your life?
Here are a few them.
If anyone ever tells you that you drink too much coffee, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
If anyone tells you that you put too much parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
If anyone tells you that you have too many cats, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
If Bohemian Rhapsody starts playing and the person you’re with doesn’t start singing along, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
They’re only meant to be a bit of fun but they do raise the question, should we make sure people around us only provide endless positivity?
There’s a guy in the Old Testament of the Bible named Micaiah who dares to stand up to the kings of two nations and say something that doesn’t really ooze positivity.
The king of Israel calls 400 prophets to ask, “Should we go to war or should hold back?”
So these ‘prophets’ are kind of like his government advisers.
They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”
Then another king named Jehoshaphat jumps in and says, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”
The king of Israel says, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Jehoshaphat replies, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”
So the king calls for Micaiah.
Did you notice what the king of Israel said? “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me!” Talk about shooting the messenger. He hates Micaiah because he doesn’t stroke the king’s ego by telling him what he wants to hear.
How often do we only allow ourselves to be surrounded by those who agree with us?
How often have we dismissed those who bring us the truth, as difficult as it may be sometimes? Do we seek out people who have permission to challenge us or only those who will say what we like hearing?
After a bit of banter between Micaiah and the kings, Micaiah tells them the news they don’t want to hear. He tells them that God doesn’t want them to go to war. The king of Israel then sends Micaiah off to prison with orders that he be put on strict rations of bread and water.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they go to war and it all ends in tears. And by tears I mean death. Not being willing to take notice of what he didn’t want to hear caused the king’s demise.
The 400 prophets said what the king wanted to hear, but it certainly didn’t benefit him. In the end, the fact that they wanted to please the king and weren’t prepared to stand on the side of right made them complicit in his death.
There certainly are times that we need some distance from negative people but there are also times we need to distance ourselves from those who ooze positivity when it’s not warranted.
Are we allowing ourselves to be challenged by things we don’t necessarily want to hear? Have we discovered how to discern the difference between negativity and people who love us enough to speak the truth?