“Vengeance is mine thus saith the Lord, but I just want to be about my Father’s business.” Rich Mullins
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” If you ask me how many times in the last month I have chosen in my lack of wisdom or patience NOT to overlook an offense, it would be sadly easy to count.
No offense, but I bet some of you may be able to say the same. Yet Jesus’ shining example shows us a better way than walking around huffing and puffing and blowing people’s houses down like the big, bad wolf of the children’s story. Like the three little pigs, we think we don’t deserve being told ‘what’s up’ or the tone of voice or the silent treatment. We don’t think we deserve for someone to come blowing down our peaceful abodes or making accusations. Do we stop to think about why this person is so offended? Perhaps rarely. Do the pigs come out and apologize, showing meekness even if they did nothing wrong? And as far as the big, bad wolf… does he think blowing the house down is going to fix anything? I wonder if he’s stopped to think about the grace he’s been given, and showing a little grace to the piggies.
The King of kings has this to say:
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
There’s a lot in Scripture about offenses, forgiveness, humility, wisdom, patience, sins, mercy, compassion, grace, and judgement. But overwhelmingly the Lord and the Word teach us to love our neighbor more than we love our ourselves, to lay our lives down, to be a living sacrifice, to be the salt of the earth, and to honor God by behaving with integrity in our earthly relationships. Whether you deal with your offenses by giving them to the Lord and overlooking the offense entirely, or if you think it’s important enough to confront the offender and discuss it peaceably… either way, reacting without rage, without vengeance, without grudge, and without pride may not be easy, but it is right and good and wise. We don’t always have to say something when we’ve been offended, we can let go. Yet the times we should discuss something need to be handled with care and privacy.
Some people become slaves to offenses, storing up bitterness and loneliness and feelings of betrayal or insecurity. This isn’t the abundant life Christ wants for anyone. Applying love and forgiveness and placing a priority on others more than yourself leads not just to better relationships, but a happier, healthier you. It also blesses our heavenly Father and allows Him to work through us to minister grace to those who are broken.
Sometimes I think I deserve respect. Sometimes I think the person in that car deserves to have a flat tire for cutting in front of me. Sometimes the offense is incredibly painful and it hurts to remember. And sometimes I think I deserve grace. Whatever the case may be, whether great or small, whether right or wrong, whether intentional or unintentional, whether recent or old, we just have to depend on God’s peace and love to heal every offense, secure and heal our hearts and give us the ability to say, “I forgive you,” even if the offender can’t hear or doesn’t respond.
Remember, we’ve been given unbelievable, unearned, and unattainable mercy. Let’s make sure we don’t deal out death and judgement, but rather give out of the mercy we’ve been given.
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord..” Leviticus 19:8
PS. Let us be careful what we label sin when we feel someone has sinned against us. Sometimes an offense is simply our selfishness being antagonized by someone else’s selfishness.