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We live in a culture that hasn’t been trained well to overlook an offense.  Some people are less sensitive than others but for most of us, overlooking an offense doesn’t come naturally.

I know that I am easily hurt and need to consciously work through a situation before I can authentically forgive. That’s what overlooking an offense is –  a non-spoken form of forgiveness. It’s a choice to do some “self talkin’ – to tell myself that I’m not going to focus on, talk about, or let that offense grow inside of me – otherwise it could fester into bitterness.  After all, according to the Bible, it’s my glory to overlook an offense.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”                 Proverbs 19.11 NIV

I can’t track down who said either of the following quotes but both challenge me to take a deep breath, step back a bit and strive to understand, rather than being understood.  I’m not always successful but I’m challenged.

Hurt people hurt people.

I’d rather make a difference than a point.

Overlooking an offense doesn’t condone a person’s actions and it doesn’t mean that I pretend it didn’t happen. It means that I’m mindful of how God forgives my actions and words and I choose to extend grace to others.

I’ve learned that random offenses are not worth pursuing – there could be a hundred reasons why a person has done or said something that might offend me and there could be a hundred more reasons why I’m triggered to be offended. When something is done or said to me that seems out of character for that person or it seldom happens,  I will choose to think the best of that person, overlook the offense and move on.  However, when there is a pattern of offense, I believe that biblically, loving well involves talking directly to this person and resolving the issue.

Ken Sande (The Peacemaker, p. 83) , suggests that overlooking an offense 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 differently toward him or her for more than a short period of time.

Secondly,  the offense should not be causing serious harm to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender. . . .

It all boils down to loving others well and good communication.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.  Proverbs 17.14 NIV

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4.8 NIV


  1. Does overlooking an offence come easily for you?
  2. Can you think of any situation in your life where you are holding bitterness in your heart?
  3. Do you feel convicted in any way to forgive someone without talking to them about the offence?

speak truth: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3.13 NIV

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