The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression – Proverbs 19: 11
Have you ever noticed how you don’t have to teach a child to defend their toys? When another child takes something of theirs, the youngster will try and take it back. Either by force or often with tears which may be accompanied by wailing sounds, he or she cries out for help. They’ve been offended and wronged. There is no interest in overlooking the transgression taken out on them.
We all have been wronged at one time or another. Whether it was something taken from us or possibly something was spoken against us, we often respond much like those previously mentioned children. We react. Often in like manner as we deem we’ve been offended. We want the situation corrected. We want justice.
There are times however when it might be the wise course of action to stop in our tracks. Even if we are in the right, even if we have been offended, even if we could demand our rights, there are times when the best course of action, the most Godly thing to do, is overlook the transgression.
While this isn’t always the case, if I am quick to react to the offense toward me, I may be operating under incomplete or incorrect information. But if I wait, many times I find this situation may not have been as bad or hurtful as I initially thought.
James tells us in chapter 1 verse 19 to be Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Rarely do we make mistakes in not speaking quickly enough. Rather, it is when people respond in raw emotion that situations become inflamed. Being slow to speak and therefore being slow to anger, can really defuse a volatile situation. I may find that it may be best to overlook the transgression. When I anger quickly, I find it hard to overlook those offenses.
Paul has even harder words for us when he tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:7, Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?
We want God’s justice when we are wronged. But God is also merciful. When we are the person in the wrong, we want His grace, His mercy. Since he is both just and merciful, shouldn’t we be the same? Here, Proverbs isn’t just saying “Don’t get angry.” Instead, He is telling us we are to overlook the transgression. To decide, I will not be offended by this action. I will show grace in this situation and overlook the offense.
It’s easy to be angry at an offense. It’s easy to look for and act on retribution. But God has a higher call for us. While it may be our right to seek justice, it might not be the best action. Again, James has something to say about this in James 3:18. He says, Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
There are times, we need to sow the fruit of righteousness by being slow to anger and thereby lay down our offense and overlook a transgression.