The Glory of Overlooking an Offense

That’s what Proverbs 19:11 calls it. Glory.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

The starting place to biblical peacemaking over and over again is the glory of overlooking – choosing to forgive an offense without transacting any communication with the offending party. Proverbs calls that good sense. The Hebrew word means that which reflects prudence, insight, skillful understanding. Few things make us more insightful in relationships than the grace of overlooking offenses.

But when is overlooking appropriate?

Ken Sande suggests the following:

Overlooking is not a passive process in which you simply remain silent for the moment but file away the offense for later use against someone. That is actually a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger. Instead, overlooking is an active process that is inspired by God’s mercy through the gospel. To truly overlook an offense means to deliberately decide not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness. If you cannot let go of an offense in this way, if it is too serious to overlook, or if it continues as part of a pattern in the other person’s life, then you will need to go and talk to the other person about it in a loving and constructive manner.

Overlooking offenses is appropriate under two conditions. First, the offense should not have created a wall between you and the other person or caused you to feel different toward him or her for more than a short period of time. Second, the offense should not be causing serious harm to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 83.

Whenever you can, practice the good sense of patient overlooking of offenses in others. By so doing you will reflect the glory of the gospel manifest in your life like few other things can.

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