“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)
My intense irritation at my husband’s actions didn’t show visibly. Since his mother was in the backseat of our car, I was careful to remain calm. However, I did sneak a darting glance toward him — a dagger that accurately conveyed how very much I hated what he’d just done.
His dire offense?
Failure to use his blinker when changing lanes.
I am a by-the-books driver. My kids chuckle when I dutifully use my blinker before turning into our driveway, even when no one is around — which is nearly 99 percent of the time, since we live near the end of a road with a cul-de-sac. Therefore, it aggravates me when my dear husband sometimes behaves as if turn signal usage is completely optional.
This particular day, we were shuttling my mother-in-law to her doctor’s appointment. As I sat in the waiting room, my mind began to tally, one-by-one, other perfectly irksome things I didn’t like about my man’s behavior.
He leaves the closet and cupboard doors open. Open! He didn’t return the stapler to its proper place when he finished using it the other day. That time we bumped into his co-worker, he didn’t even introduce me. He never remembers the details of our conversations. As each scenario popped into my mind, I grew more and more annoyed.
Across from me sat a chatty elderly woman. The weather reports were calling for an ice storm later that afternoon. She spoke of some people all in a tizzy about the impending inclement weather, declaring they needed to remember one important fact, “Everybody’s got somethin’.”
I asked her just what she meant by that. “Well,” she elaborated, “when we lived in Kansas, it was dust storms and tornadoes. Then, the few years we lived in southern Florida, we had to prepare for hurricanes. And, when we were stationed in California, oh what a drought we had that one year. Like I say,” she restated, “Everybody’s got somethin’.”
My waiting room friend’s atmospheric observation spiritually snapped me to attention that day. Why, oh why, do I let certain aspects of my husband’s personality and conduct bother me so easily? Surely I do things that drive him equally crazy? Undoubtedly, I sometimes irk or offend him with my behavior? In fact: “Everybody’s got somethin’” — some behavior, quirk, practice or habit that wreaks havoc on others, tempting them to become slightly irritated or even all-out furious.
Today’s key verse states that “good sense makes one slow to anger” and that it is a person’s “glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). In the original Hebrew language, the word “glory” conveys “beauty, honor, splendor” and even “adornment.” The original essence of this verse unearths for us this line of thinking: Our patience in passing over an offense — refusing to speedily go from zero to furious over the actions of others — adorns us with true beauty and honors them.
I’m not saying it’s easy. However, it is the right — and righteous — thing to do. Why? Because we mirror the gospel when we overlook another’s unpleasant behavior and love them anyway.
So how about it? Is there someone in your life who sometimes gets on your nerves or under your skin — or maybe even both? Does your response to their behavior leave no doubt about your level of frustration? How about we try a new approach — intentionally overlooking irritating behavior? Yes, that means we keep our cool. Don’t say a word. Smile instead, and love despite.
In other words, reflect the gospel to a watching world. More importantly — to a watching loved one.
Father, may I learn not to let the little quirks or even the bigger missteps of my loved ones provoke me to instant anger. Teach me to overlook an offense as I remember how much You’ve forgiven me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” (CSB)
Need a little help in the “slow to anger” department? Check out Karen Ehman’s book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All.
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For more on the topic of marriage, head to Karen’s blog to get details about an upcoming interactive Facebook Live session on marriage, and download her free PDF called 10 Ways to Love Your Sandpaper Spouse.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take this challenge: Practice overlooking an offense this week. The next time a loved one or co-worker does that thing that drives you crazy, say nothing. Instead, make it a point to offer praise for something you appreciate about them.
© 2017 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.