They're hard because people can be complicated, inconsistent, moody and opinionated. Also because we do dumb things sometimes. Insensitive things. And we have an ill-fated tendency to lash out at people when we feel threatened by them.
Despite these tendencies, the Bible calls us to live at peace with people. Part of that is knowing when to simply overlook an offense. In the example I shared in my devotion published at P31 today, a friend lashed out at me when I didn't agree with her plan of action. I wanted to save her what I felt would be a huge mistake. But she felt judged, or unsupported when I questioned her decision. She fired at me in anger.
She and I had known each other a long time. And I knew this was not the sort of thing to end our relationship over. She lost her cool in the heat of the moment and said some things she would no doubt later regret. But I've done that before.
I think it's biblical, when you feel transgressed against, to see if there is some log in your own eye that you have missed while fixating on the speck in your neighbor’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Let their mess up serve as a reminder to check our own eyes and our own actions. That doesn't excuse or make their actions just, it just keeps us from charging forward in a hypocritical manner!
In my flesh I certainly wanted to defend myself. I wanted to "hit back." But then again, I didn't really think she believed those things she said about me. Nor did I think she would continue saying them once she calmed down. And in my spirit I realized anything I'd say in that moment - in my own anger and defensiveness - I'm likely to regret. I'd be placing a log into my own eye, so instead I bit my tongue.
Sometimes we need to pause - mouth shut - long enough to ask:
• Have I truly been wronged here, or am I just offended?
• Is this person truly against me, or are we just not seeing eye-to-eye?
• Are we arguing over a matter of personal preference, or a matter of scriptural right and wrong?
• Does this have long-term ramifications, or is it something that'll likely not matter to either of us a month from now?
If it is an offense that can be overlooked, then the Bible says it is to your credit to do so.
"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." ~ Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)
Of course, God doesn't expect us to remain quiet in every situation - He doesn't insist that we be a whipping post or a door mat to sin. Rather He calls to us to look clearly at situations and the relationships involved and proceed in ways that will bring truth, light and hopefully peace onto the scene - as much as it is up to us.
So if there is a relationship in your life you're struggling to grant grace in, or a transgression you need to overlook, leave a prayer request and I'll pray for you and for them. And if you can get your hands on my new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know, chapters 4 & 7 might be of further help.
Thankful for the peace God can provides even in the face of strife.
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