How to Overlook an Offense (Proverbs 19:11)
by Lynette Kittle
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense”—Proverbs 19:11
In a world of hurtful social media tactics and more, how do we move past offenses where others knowingly or unknowingly wound us?
It can be even more disappointing when a fellow Christian offends us, because we have higher expectations for them. Like Romans 12:10 encourages, we hope believers will give preference to one another.
Likewise, we hope Christians grasp the importance of the words we speak, remembering how one day we will all give an account for every empty word spoken (Matthew 12:36).
Still, even in the midst of these hurtful experiences, God gives us the opportunity to learn how to work through offenses. And if we’re willing to submit to Him, He will refine and fine-tune our hearts during the process.
Looking Honestly at Ourselves
Overlooking offenses is good work for us to do. As we work to truly forgive others, we uncover and discover weaknesses in ourselves, ones we most likely didn’t know were even residing within us.
Offenses have a way of shining a spotlight within us, exposing areas in our hearts that could use revealing. If we truly want God to transform and renew us, then we want to be willing to examine our own behaviors and attitudes, like 2 Corinthians 13:5 urges us to do.
So overall if we are willing, this purging process can help us experience a godly type of gratefulness for the cleansing work it does within us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
In the sitcom “King of Queens” Lyin’ Hearted episode, Carrie’s (Leah Remini) father, Arthur (Jerry Stiller), is in hospital for heart surgery. While looking through his important papers, Carrie discovers her dad withheld opportunities from her that would have made her life better.
Deeply hurt, offended, and disappointed by these discoveries, Carrie’s first reaction is to lash out and hurt him back. But in a split moment, where it looks likes she’s losing him to cardiac arrest, her heart dramatically changes to forgive him. Within minutes Carrie realizes how her father’s offenses do not outweigh her love for him.
Like her character experienced, when it comes to responding to an offense, it’s beneficial to look at the whole picture to see what really matters most to us, especially when it comes to responding to the failures of others.
In overlooking offenses, we can seek God for wisdom, asking Him to lead us in our responses and actions, and to reveal how they may affect our relationships in the long run.
Instead of focusing on others’ lack of love towards us, we can turn our love towards them, choosing to offer them forgiveness and patience even when it seems like they don’t deserve it.
Like Colossians 3:13 reminds us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
God’s Word explains that when we overlook offenses, it reflects well on us. Godly handling of offense also helps us to experience it less and less, not because others aren’t offending us, but because we aren’t receiving it into lives.
Who has offended you? Who do you need to forgive? Take time today to pray forgiveness over any offenses you are holding onto.
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, iBelieve.com, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, Startmarriageright.com, growthtrac.com, and more. She has an M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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