“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” – Proverbs 19:11

There are people who impress you, but you can’t figure out why. They possess some hidden mystique. You can be one of those people. All you’ve got to do is let more things go. For example, somebody took an undeserved shot at you; an incompetent colleague made you look bad; a family member treats you with inexplicable rudeness. A feeling of outrage swells up. It’s unfair. There’s an injustice here that you need to rectify. Or… you could just let it go.

Letting it go looks a lot like forgiveness, which isn’t forgetting. Forgiveness doesn’t mean becoming someone’s doormat or winking at failure and selfishness. There are plenty of times you need to clearly state the facts and hold people accountable. But a person with good sense is slow in reaching their anger threshold. Justifiable anger usually rises on a gradual boil, not with a microwave zap.

It’s hard to overlook an offense because of the perceived danger to your reputation. If I don’t respond to that jab, Bob will think he can walk all over me, that I have no backbone. He’ll think that I think it’s true…or at least true enough. There’s something valid in that thinking. People will offer a fearful veneration to angry folks who are constantly blowing their top. But keeping your rage-o-meter in the red is a shallow, exhausting, and unhealthy way of commanding respect.

God shows us there’s another way, and you’ve seen it in action. What’s your impression of someone who confronts you gently about a failure? Or who you see quietly absorb an insult? You respect that person more, not less. Why? They’re bigger than the barb. They rise above. Their concept of self appears larger, not smaller, in that they can’t be bothered…to be bothered. You expect a teacher not to descend into a shouting match with their student. The teacher’s confidence is buttressed behind the knowledge that he is the teacher and not the student. He doesn’t feel the need to prove that. Small people get hung up on small things.

Jesus got angry, but it was slow in coming, and it was never about defending his image. He didn’t deign to engage pot-shots. Anybody who has seen social media wars play out knows how this game works. It can seem unconscionable to let the falsehoods fly, but responding to the trolls legitimizes them. Your counterarguments are fuel for the torches they’re trying to burn you with.

On the other hand, overlooking an offense is like showing off, minus blowing the brass trumpet. You’re proclaiming your magnitude of soul. The offense is a mosquito bite that’s not about to ruin your vacation at the lake. Jesus allowed himself to be buried under an avalanche of our offenses. It was his glory to do that, even though it didn’t look like it at the time. He possessed a glory much bigger than the shame he endured.

Overlooking doesn’t mean you pretend you didn’t hear it. It means explicitly absorbing the offense because you choose to be occupied with higher things. Fortunately, there are a lot of things higher than the fickle opinions of others. As a Christian, you overlook offenses because your worth is held in orbit by the God of the universe.

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2 Comments

  1. Katlyn

    Yes, rise above it all! Other people’s behavior is a reflection of who THEY are. It is also important to calmly set clear boundaries to have a healthy relationship. It gives them the opportunity to grow and demonstrate how they really feel about you. If they don’t want to hear it, they will usually go elsewhere to continue the same behavior.

    Reply
    • Justin Poythress

      Absolutely! Good to set boundaries, then let God worry about others.

      Reply

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