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Overlooking Offences

A personís wisdom yields patience;
it is to oneís glory to overlook an offense.
(Proverbs 19:11)

This verse really spoke to me this morning. Let me ask you: how often do you get offended? And what do you do when you are offended? How often does someone say or do something that gets us all bent out of shape, making us fuss and fume and even, heaven help us, retaliate in kind. Some are worse than others, going around with a chip on their shoulder all the time, just looking for things to take offense at. And while we may not be quite that bad, all of us have a tendency to take offense, don't we?

It's often our own family members that set us off. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes unintentionally - although when we get offended, we usually are not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. No one pushes our buttons like those closest to us. They hurt our feelings, or don't do what we think they should. And we become offended. If they had any respect for us, they wouldn't have said that or done that. And our sinful human nature wants to strike back, and hurt them for hurting us, or disagreeing with us. We want to punish them for not doing what we thought they should, or for doing what we didn't want them to do. We want to make our point clear, and gain the upper hand. We want to argue and prove why we are right, and they are wrong.

But it's not just family members. People in our groups - whether civic groups, business groups, church groups; sports groups - any time we're dealing with other people, there is bound to be someone who offends us at some point. Everybody has their own views and opinions, and their own way of doing things. It 's just natural that we aren't all going to agree on everything, all the time. Why on earth would we expect to?

And social media does not help. People get so offended anymore by any viewpoint anyone expresses that they disagree with. Because of the disconnection of social media - we may be thousands of miles away from the person we are disagreeing with - somehow people feel free to make rude comments on the posts of people they do not even know, people they will probably never meet. This leads people to say things that perhaps they would not say if they were sitting face to face with their antagonist. Maybe we need to ask ourselves why a post by a person we've never even met angers us so greatly?

Today's verse is very clear: a wise person has patience with the foibles, opinions, or actions of others. A truly wise person, or a person of discretion, doesn't get offended by every little thing. Wisdom requires that we be patient (and kind) towards others, recognizing two things: first, that we are not all robots with the exact same thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and second, that all people are God's creations, made in His own image, just as we are. Therefore, we do not have to agree on every single thing, and thus we do not have to be offended by the words and actions of others. In fact, it is to our glory to overlook their offenses!

Being patient and slow to anger is part of the character and nature of God, and as His children, we should develop a patient and forbearing attitude ourselves. Forgiving others their trespasses is something Jesus included in the model prayer (Matthew 6:12). Patience and a forgiving spirit are true marks of Godliness. They set us apart from the world, showing the world we are led by the Holy Spirit, not by our flesh

When we are offended by the words or deeds of someone else, we have a choice to make. We can react out of our sinful human nature, or we can react wisely. We can choose to just let it go, and overlook the offense. We do not have to prove how we are right, and the other person is wrong. We will seldom, if ever, make the other person see our point and admit we are right, so why waste our time and energy trying? And here's the thing: we do not have to win a battle we don't participate in!

It is our choice, but this Scripture is quite clear about which choice is better. We don't bring glory upon ourselves by constantly being offended, but by overlooking offenses we show ourselves to be true followers of Jesus.



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