Invitation to overlook an offense

9 Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
   fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend! 
(Proverbs 17:9)

There are times in life when an offense seems just too significant to overlook - there is just something about that offense that makes you think it is "justifiable" to remain angry with someone or to perhaps even break off the friendship.  Our passage from Proverbs this morning reminds us that when we overlook an offense, we are actually bringing a "bond" to that friendship that is like super glue.  When we "faster on to" an offense, we are taking the risk that the friendship will be harmed by that action.

To overlook something means more than that we don't take notice of the offense.  It includes the idea of not taking time to consider that offense over and over again - we don't rehearse it repeatedly.  Ever been in a "heated" discussion with someone, only to have them bring up something you had done years before?  People who are "holding on to" offenses are like that - they have an ability to recount the failure of the past over and over again.  

The meaning of this word also carries the idea that we extend a pardon - the person who is offending us gets a "buy" as it comes to the offense.  For many of us, giving someone a "buy" when they offend us is conditional - if the offense is minor, we might extend the pardon, but if it is more grievous, we hold on for dear life.  One thing reiterated in scripture is that God is not conditional in his grace - he extends it even before we realize we have need for it.  

When we fail to take notice of the offense, or extend that pardon when it is least deserved, we are bringing a bond in that relationship that is not easily broken.  That simple action on our part serves to unite us in relationship.  It brings a connection between the two parties that helps the relationship be twice a strong as it was prior to the extension of that mercy.  The important thing is that we learn to look beyond the "slights" in behavior that we often have a tendency to "latch onto".

Now, before you get me wrong, you don't need to go through life being the doormat - letting others just walk all over you and leave you covered in dirt!  There are times when an offense is egregious - it is glaringly bad or wrong!  We need to be able to express the way that action of another affected us - without attacking that other individual.  Then we need to let that other person go - not holding them in a place of "owing" us, but allowing God to take that person into his hands for whatever action he feels may be warranted.

There are "little things" in relationships that become "big things" - all because we fasten on to those things - focusing on them, rehearsing them, not being willing to overlook them.  The invitation to us today is to learn how we are to overlook the slights in relationship.  Most of the time, the slights are really done without malice - they are unintentional.  When we learn to focus less on those and more on the person, loving them unconditionally, it is amazing how little those small things will really matter.


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