Fighting Anger with Magnanimous Forgiveness
A Google search of royal jewels yields, among others, Queen Elizabeth’s Imperial State Crown.
The crown is set with 2868 diamonds in silver mounts and colored stones in gold mounts, including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls. What a glorious treasure that must be to behold!
Proverbs borrows that kind of imagery to describe a figurative glory to behold–overlooking personal offenses. I’m talking about Proverbs 19:11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it his glory to overlook an offense.”
The word “glory” is the same Hebrew term used in Proverbs 4:9. “She [wisdom] will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
When we choose forbearance in the face of insults by granting unilateral forgiveness of wrongs without confrontation, Scripture likens that to wearing a priceless tiara–a glorious crown. It makes us spiritually beautiful!
In this introductory post about this virtue for peacemakers eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in their churches (Eph. 4:1-3), please note that there are three essentials to grasp from the text.
The Aim Is Good Sense
The Hebrew is variously translated discretion, wisdom, understanding, and insight. The book of Proverbs champions this pursuit as priority-one in life. “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly” (16:22).
Wisdom is a moral issue won or lost on the battlefield of human relationships.
The Enemy Is Anger
Proverbs warns often about this nemesis to a life of wisdom, pleading for long-fused restraint in the face of wrongs.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (10:12).
“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” (12:16).
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (14:29).
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (15:18).
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling” (20:3).
“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (29:22).
The takeaway is obvious: the more you are given to outbursts of anger the greater your distance from genuine spiritual insight and discretion.
The Answer Is Forgiveness
Overlooking offenses means regularly choosing magnanimous forgiveness in the face of wrongs without ever talking to an offender. I plead with others all the time: “Please do not be easily offended. Overlook sins in others–a lot!”
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 (83).
How do you know when not to overlook an offense? Stay tuned for my next post!
Question: What is a challenging offense for you to overlook and why? You can leave your comment below.