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Be Willing to Overlook

Be Willing to Overlook

by Angela McKnight
- Forgiveness, Overlook, Patience

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 19:11

We can see this proverb lived out in the earthly life of Jesus.  He was slow to anger and overlooked a myriad of offenses committed against Him.

Some people are easily offended, others – not so much, but all of us feel like we are wronged at some points in life, and we can look to Jesus’ example to help us respond in a God-honoring way.

As a parent, I have often encouraged my children to overlook offenses from their siblings.  Sometimes, there was really no wrong committed, there was merely a perception of wrong.  Other times, the offense was minor, and I might offer a reminder of this proverb.  Teaching our children to overlook offenses will prepare them to live graciously as adults. 

Personally, there have been times that I have been offended by someone else and everything within me wanted to demand justice.  But when I pause and think about Jesus’ life on earth, I realize that I will never be wronged to the extent that He was wronged.  In fact, most of the perceived offenses in my life are insignificant in comparison with what Jesus endured on my behalf.  

Jesus was taunted, ridiculed, rejected, and treated wrongly, throughout His earthly ministry.  He suffered continual offenses as He interacted with people.

In Mark 6 we read that Jesus was rejected in His hometown of Nazareth.  “And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’  And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.  And he marveled because of their unbelief.”  But what was Jesus’ response to this rejection?  The very next verse tells us that “he went about among the villages teaching.”  Jesus just continued on with His ministry.   

In another incident, Luke 4 records a time when Jesus was teaching in the synagogue.  At first the people spoke well of Him and “marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth,” but just a few verses later, they became violently enraged by what He said.  “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.”  What was Jesus’ response to this murderous rage?  The next verse tells us that “passing through their midst, he went away.”  Jesus just slipped away.  He didn’t even say a word.

When Jesus stood before Pilate, the crowd demanded that He be crucified.  According to the Passover custom, Pilate offered to release one man to the crowd, but they chose the robber named Barabbas instead of Jesus (John 19).  Even though Pilate said that he found no guilt in Jesus, he delivered him over to be crucified.  How did Jesus respond to this grave injustice? He did not even defend Himself.  He allowed Himself to be tortured and taken to the cross.

Even after He had surrendered Himself to the humiliation of crucifixion as an innocent sacrifice, Jesus continued to be ridiculed by those who stood nearby.  In fact, the very people who should have embraced His earthly ministry were the ones who caused the greatest offense.  Matthew 27:41-42 records that “the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself.  He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”  The reality is that Jesus could have saved Himself.  

Just one chapter earlier, in Matthew 26, He rebuked one of his followers for striking the servant of the high priest in an attempt to defend Jesus.  Jesus emphasized His ability to free Himself from His captors by saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”  So, this passage shows us that Jesus willingly chose not to defend Himself in order that the Father’s will might be accomplished.  

In all of these situations, Jesus did not respond to any offense.  He continued on with the ministry that the Father had given Him, he slipped away quietly without a word, and He endured the greatest offense imaginable – for our benefit.  

If we want to live like Jesus, we must be willing to overlook an offense – or maybe many offenses.  We must be willing to walk away quietly.  We must be willing to continue with the ministry God has laid out before us, maybe without defending ourselves.  Sometimes, we may even need to endure seemingly unbearable offenses for the sake of others.  Jesus demonstrated all of these responses for us, because there is glory in overlooking an offense.

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