“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” ~Proverbs 19:11
Our church is in a series called “Wisdom of the Ages” and we’ve been challenged by our pastor to read through the book of Proverbs this month. This series was planned quite a while ago, and Pastor approached the congregation with a request for responses to four specific questions:
- (Parents) What do you wish your children knew?
- (Children) What do you wish your parents knew?
- What would you tell your younger self?
- What do you wish your pastor knew?
These questions must have created a flood of emails, letters, and maybe even a few phone calls for the church office. It took most of us a while to respond (probably because we were each trying to think of a nice way to say what we wanted). As I typed out my response to each of these questions, it was difficult to decide what to include… so many situations came to mind. I would imagine you felt the same as you re-lived some family tension, or disagreement, or even an estrangement between family members that can no longer be reconciled.
How quickly did that offense come up in your memory? – Was that hurt made dull by the passage of time, or had it been erased by reconciliation? When you answered Pastor’s questions, did the opportunity to share your heart weigh on you as you wrote the words to “that” person or were you holding back because it. Just. Hurt. Too. Much. There’s no way for me to know, but as I’ve been reading Proverbs, I’ve been taking some much needed solace from the certainty that somebody must have learned these things not just before me…. but learned them the hard way.
We are the lucky ones who can read Proverbs from the vantage point of being a Christian with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to live by these sayings without help. “Don’t be offended.” This is nearly impossible without Christ. Especially now. If we’re able to avoid being offended, it seems we manage (without trying) to offend someone else.
This is where I believe Proverbs 19:11 brings us back to reality. “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger.” It is up to my discretion to get angry… or to show the grace of God when I’m tempted to take offense. The Holy Spirit helps me make that choice in that moment. My knee-jerk reaction toward anger can be held back in Christ—Who will reveal to me the deeper reason for the offense. “…and his glory to overlook a transgression” moves me beyond that quick meanness and on to an understanding of where the offense is the most painful. I’m so thankful we don’t have to look at that pain on our own. We can “overlook” (look over, dissect, understand) the hurt in the good and healing company of the Comforter. This verse has been such a blessing to me!