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