Saturday, 12 May 2012


Big Enough to Overlook the Offenses of Others

Jua (3Y2M7D) entered kindergarten about a month ago and I had the privilege of following him for the first two days. J wanted to sit beside A during Circle Time. However, she went away to another spot taking another friend along without taking J along. I was for a moment worried about feelings of rejection that J might experience, but I resisted intervening. J needed to handle the real world courageously. J did not take offense. He paused for a moment calmly, thinking whether he should follow or not. He did not follow suit. A day later, I asked him whether he would be glad to play with A. He gladly said yes. He was large and gracious, no trace of being offended by what happened the day before. J always comes home from the kindergarten full of joy (although given the choice of choosing staying at home with his parents or going to kindergarten, he would choose the former.) Far more important than intellectual development is character development. I am glad that J has shown to be emotionally and mentally strong and large to deal with the children at the kindergarten. He is by nature a kind, sweet, big-hearted and generous boy. I hope he will grow up as such as an adult too.

I look at J. I look at myself. I am quite a world apart. How could I be a good model to J? J spurs me on to pursue with greater determination my own character development. I want to be a good influence on J and not to ruin his sweet, kind and gracious nature. I hope I will find myself worthy to be his mom.

Recently some incidents in my life have put me to the test and I struggled. I took comfort in King David’s experience: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” and “for it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it... But it is you... my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together...” (Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14)

I struggle to deal with it God’s way versus the man's way. The world says, “If people mistreat or insult you, get even, lash out, make them pay, give them back what they deserve, bite back. Why should you suffer a wrong?” However, God showed me this verse from the Bible:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” ( Proverbs 19:11)

I did my quiet time using the Daily Bread on the train on the way to work, and the passage on April 28 spoke to me. There are many great men before me whom I could learn from. One of them was George Washington Carver, who “overcame terrible racial prejudice to establish himself as a renowned educator. Rejecting the temptation to give in to bitterness for the way he was treated, Carver wisely wrote, “Hate within will eventually destroy the hater”.”

There and then, I got off the train and walked to take the bus. The bus came. I stood at the entrance of the bus. The bus-driver shut the door right after the person before me, just as I was about to board the bus! The bus was not at all full. I knocked the door. The driver ignored me. He drove off right in front of my eyes. The other people at the bus-stop sympathized with me. My first reaction was to curse and get mad at the driver. I was about to shout B******, but I stopped myself.

But then I got mad at God.

I told God, “I have been struggling with overlooking offenses and do not need another one, God!”

He said to me, “You have just read the Bible and the passage from the Daily Bread, and now I am giving you a chance to practice. I had a purpose. You are one of my chosen people - You are a Christian. The driver is not. Perhaps the driver had been offended by someone else earlier. Perhaps he had a bad day. He was taking it on someone else, and I have chosen you to be that someone else. Because you are a Christian, you can pray for him. Pray and do not curse. If this incident had not happen, you would not have a chance to pray for him.”

Alright God.

I made a conscious choice to pray for that driver. I no longer felt angry, but sympathy for the driver, and hoping that he would one day get to know the good God, the God who wants to reach him and bless him, and got my attention to pray for him that day.

I had passed the test that morning, but there are more challenging ones to come. As I quote from a text I read somewhere, "Living in a fallen world with imperfect system that is less than fair comes with a guarantee: somebody, somewhere, is going to do you wrong. If not, the system is going to treat you unfairly."

"Am I big enough to overlook the offenses of others? Do I have a thick skin when it comes to the little barbs that inevitably come whenever people are working together? Do I turn bitter? Does it stop me dead in my tracks and take me out of commission for weeks."

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” - Proverbs 19:11

What does Proverbs 19:11 really mean and how I can truly practice it? I want to know and understand it more, so that I can truly put it into practice. I pursued this verse and studied it. The following are not my own words, but from my internet research (see references below):
What does it mean by wisdom here? It means discretion. It means good sense.
What is an offense? An offense is disrespect, rudeness, insult, humiliation, unfair treatment.
What is this patience here? It is similar to showing grace. We are to respond to offenses by giving evidence of the grace of God. It is being slow to anger. It is restraining one's anger. Other version of Proverbs 19:11 shed more light:

"The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression." - Proverbs 19:11
"Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense." - Proverbs 19:11
The first thing we have to do when we are offended is to pray for patience and grace that comes from godly wisdom.

To overlook an offense is to be big enough to excuse it, disregard it, to pardon, to forgive, to shrug off "without the transacting of any communication with the offending party" (quote unknown).

To overlook an offense means "to refuse to give notice, to refuse to consider, to refuse to judge the actions or attitude of another, to refuse to take revenge, to even refuse to get stirred up, to look beyond the offense to Jesus". (mixture of quote from references below)
To overlook an offense is to entrust it to the sovereign God and trust Him for justice*. The God who bore my offense through Christ on Calvary. Jesus, who did not retaliate when he was hurled with insults, and who made no threats when he suffered. He was treated harshly, He was beaten, ultimately crucified and through it all “he never said a word”, “he did not open his mouth“. Jesus is an amazing example to us and set the pattern for dealing with offenses:

"But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. When they hurled their insults on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly" - 1 Peter 2: 20 - 21, 23

"When we bear the burden of justice, it constantly stirs in our soul. But when we release that burden to God, then we experience the light air of peace. God is able to work together all things for the good." (mixture of quote from references below). We can learn from Joseph’s experience:

Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19–20)

Choosing not to get offended is glorious according to Proverbs 19:11. The glory is found in the fact that this action reflects God’s grace. By so doing we will reflect the glory of the gospel in our lives like few other things can. We become more beautiful when we overlook an offense, despite what our fallen nature screams at us. Exacting revenge not only robs us of our peace, it robs us of our splendour. Only feelings rule our hearts in moments like these, not glory. The wise, even in their anger, overlook an offense.

That means that we can surely have the chance to get glory today, for someone will certainly offend us. Tongue-in-cheek :-)

According to, to be a good leader, one has to learn to be big enough to overlook the offenses of others. The greatest leaders are not easily offended. Instead, they are big enough to overlook the offenses of others. They develop rhinoceros hide when it comes to the words of others. They show grace and practice the habit of overlooking offenses. They take the high road, give the offender the benefit of the doubt, and move on. If you do not, then you are not going to last long in the service of God. Sooner or later, someone is going to offend you, and that will shoot you down. This is especially if you have aspirations to do something special for God. And the best management style is servanthood - having the heart of a servant and lead by serving, lead by example.

I will try again God. Please help me God. 

* Note though that the justice may not happen in this life, but it should not be measured in this regard. What God "takes away", He gives us blessings in other areas of our lives, if we open our eyes and count them, and that in itself is also justice.


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