Overlooking Personal Offenses
by Deepak Reju
“You should have followed my instructions. It was unhelpful to do it your way.”
“You don’t care, do you?”
“You made the wrong decision.”
Have you ever had a family member, coworker, or friend say something that stung? Maybe it was harsh. Maybe it was too personal. Maybe it was disrespectful. Whatever it was that they said, it was offensive.
There is a time to confront sin (Matt. 18:15–20; Gal. 6:1). But there are moments when it is better to overlook an offense.
Say a friend says something rude to you—“That was dumb. You shouldn’t have done that!” They didn’t learn the context for your actions, and they offered advice too quickly without listening (Prov. 18:2, 13). You can return their offensive comments with your own frustrations, or even worse, you can respond in anger. Your friend was thoughtless and rude. So, you feel that they deserve whatever they get. But that won’t get you anywhere, will it?
Solomon writes: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11). Too often, we are quick to anger. A friend’s rude comment not only hurts us, it provokes us. Yet, we must be slow to anger and quick to overlook an offense. Don’t you want to be like God? He is slow to anger (Ex. 34:6). Because of Christ, He forgives our sins (Col. 1:13–14; 1 John 1:9) and doesn’t hold our sins against us (Ps. 103:10). If this is what God is like, won’t you consider overlooking an offense?
Consider also Proverbs 17: “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (v. 9). If the offense festers in your heart, you’ll talk about it. You’ll bring it up until your friend agrees with you or apologizes. Repeating the matter drives a wedge between two friends.
When you cover an offense, you are motivated by love. If your friend is rude, out of love for him, you’re not angry in return. Think about Paul’s descriptor of love in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient and kind. . . . It is not irritable or resentful” (vv. 4–5). Your love and affection for your friend help you to overlook his rude comment.
But there is more to it than just a personal affection for your friend. Remember, Christian love is motivated by Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We love because He first loved us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10–11).
When your friend is rude, Jesus’ death on the cross makes it possible for you to respond in love, not hate. It makes it possible for you cover over an offense, not repeat it. It makes it possible to live in peace, not in conflict. Do you believe this? Will you trust in Jesus?