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Overlooking Offenses against Us

When someone sins against you, what’s your natural response? To lash out in anger perhaps? Or to withdraw from the relationship and silently “punish” the person?

Why not simply overlook the offense? Don’t make a big deal about it. Just let it go. And while we may not be able to do that in every situation, we can probably do that in at least 90% of situations. Proverbs 10:12 states that “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” And Proverbs 19:11 tells us that “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Whenever someone sins against you, you might find it helpful to ask you yourself this question. “What’s stopping me from simply overlooking this offense?”

Is it pride? Perhaps you have an inflated view of your own importance that causes you to resent anyone who doesn’t recognize your importance. If so, you may need to humble yourself and remind yourself that the gospel puts you in the position of receiver rather than achiever.

You also may want to ask, “Is it self-righteousness that’s keeping me from overlooking the offense?” Perhaps you’re acting as if wrongs should never be forgiven, and yet all the while, you forgetting all the times in your life you’ve wronged others and, ultimately, wronged God. If so, you’d do well to remember that God has been ever so gracious in dealing with you and your sin. So is it self-righteousness?

And lastly, is it idolatry? Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to overlook an offense because you’ve been valuing something more than you value God, and this person has taken away that from you. Leisure time, a material possession, you’re boss’s favor—whatever it may be. I once heard someone describe an idol as something you’ll sin in order to get and sin if you don’t get. That’s how you know something has become an idol. And one way we’ll sin if we don’t get our idol is by refusing to overlook someone’s offense. In that situation, we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is the greatest treasure and the only one worth spending our lives pursuing.

Think for a moment of all the things we’ve done against God. Every proud thought, every selfish motive, every bit of ungratefulness, in addition to all of our more obvious acts of rebellion.

I’m reminded of Romans 3:10-18: “As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

So this is how we repay God for all of his goodness towards us. God created us, breathed life into us, and has given us blessing on top of blessing. And we rebel against him? That’s pretty messed up.

And yet, God offers us full forgiveness of all of those sins through Jesus. Isaiah 53:5-6 says, with reference to Jesus, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

So, you see, Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities.” That means he took the penalty for all of our sins against God. Someone had to pay for all of those sins. And Jesus paid for them on the cross so we wouldn’t have to pay for them in hell. And then Jesus victoriously resurrected from the dead so that everyone who directs their trust toward him can be completely, 100% forgiven. It’s pretty amazing. And so, if we’re having trouble forgiving others, the real problem is probably that we aren’t fully conscious of how God has forgiven us.