Hey Everyone! I’m Roger Hamilton and I oversee the training and development of our Eagle Lake staff. I have been with the Navigators for 33 years! I love helping our staff grow in their knowledge and love of God and the Bible. One thing I don’t like are blogs. So, I prefer to call it a B-Log, as in Bible log. I’ll be back as your trusty Eagle Lake B-logger every other week, at least until you get sick of me. Did you miss the last post? Read it here!
“You need to let it go.”
Abraham Lincoln had a unique way of handling his anger: he would write a “hot letter” where he would share all his frustrations with an incompetent general or a member of his cabinet, then stick it in a drawer. Doris Kearns Goodwin writes, “When his papers were opened at the beginning of the 20th century, historians discovered a raft of such letters, with Lincoln’s notation underneath: ‘never sent and never signed.’” Click here to read about it!
I would like to think that Abraham Lincoln – as a man who regularly read his Bible – was familiar with Proverbs 19:11.
“Those with good sense are slow to anger,
and it is their glory to overlook an offense.”
Let me be clear, I don’t believe this verse is a band-aid that we’re supposed to apply to the deep, painful wounds caused by the abuse and neglect of those who should know better. But it does help us to deal with the “scratches and bruises” of everyday life in a fallen world.
What I am talking about is that these days we don’t have to look very hard to find someone who is offended about something… all the time! (*note: being offended is different than having an opinion!) And while it may be tempting to react in offense as dramatics are quite easy to engage in, especially online…it’s WAY more useful right now to talk about how this verse impacts me, Roger Hamilton and maybe you might relate?
Four things stand out to me from Proverbs 19:11:
FIRST: Good sense: Some translations use “wisdom.” The starting point, the foundation for this kind of response is wisdom. It reminds me of James 3:13-18, where there is a clear difference between the wisdom that comes from God and the wisdom of the world!
SECOND: Slow to anger: Why do I act like it’s a constitutional right to be outraged or offended so quickly about every issue? Again, James comes to mind. In 1:19,20 he reminds us that our anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.
THIRD: Overlook an offense: I can make a deliberate choice to let it go AND to not bring it up again! It’s not overlooking the offense if I file it away and weaponize it to get even at the “perfect time.”
FOURTH: Glory: We actually stand out in all the right ways when we choose to look beyond what is offending those around us or what is in our nature to be offended by. This doesn’t necessarily mean pretending it never happened (that’s not great conflict management) but it does imply without becoming angry or bitter. The Amplified Version explains this well, “And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].” In Matthew 5:16 Jesus tells us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Maybe I could…
choose in the place of getting angry, pouting like a 3-year-old, complaining to a friend, or letting the air out of their car tires (OK, I haven’t done the last one, but I have THOUGHT about it!), to glorify God by overlooking the offense. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m pretty good at most of those responses, and they never leave me feeling better- or the people around me.
Sometimes the offense might be an innocent slip of the tongue or sarcastic comment that is easy to overlook when I believe the best about the person. But there are times when the “scratch” is deep enough to hurt- a lot! Those are the times I need to get alone with God and let His Spirit give me some eternal perspective.
Last year a ministry leader said something to me that was meant as a playful jab, but it really hurt. I know they had no malicious intent, but it didn’t lessen the sting. I agonized with the Lord about going to the person and letting them know how their careless comment had affected me (which would not have been wrong to do, by the way). But God was very clear: “You need to let it go.” I made an agreement with God that I would overlook the offense and commit to never bringing it up again!
Do you want to know the real truth?
I am way more often the offender than the offended! And I really want to learn and grow when those I have offended are courageous and honest enough to tell me. But I’m sure there are countless situations where someone has decided with the Lord to overlook my offense (including the person I mentioned above!).
What do you think? Let’s ask God for His wisdom on when to overlook an offense. Can you imagine if all Christians practiced this regularly in personal relationships? It would grow our depth, challenge our love for one another, and give glory to God!
Read and Journal!
Look up Proverbs 19:11 in 4 or 5 different translations. What impresses you about the differences?
Read James 1:19,20 and 3:13-18. What does James say that relates to Proverbs 19:11?
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19,20).
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:13-18).
Write down a few situations where you have overlooked an offense? What was the outcome for you? For the relationship?