By: Anne Peterson
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. - Proverbs 19:11
As soon as the calendar flips to February, red is all around. Hearts and flowers are everywhere. Commercials tell us, “If you love him/her…and it’s followed by a list of what we should buy those we love. Reading through greeting cards, you will be hard-pressed to find many that paint an accurate picture of love.
As children, we started hearing inaccurate accounts of what love was early in life. Maybe you believed that love was walking together into the sunset, hearing violins play, waiting for our prince to come riding on a white horse. Eventually, we grew up. But those unrealistic pictures stayed tucked away in our minds, even though we knew they were not true.
The truth is, relationships take work. Lots and lots of work.
And because we are human, we make mistakes. We hurt others, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident. Our relationships are the perfect place to work on our rough edges. And if you’re not sure what your rough edges are, don’t worry, marriage will reveal them.
So, if we know we are going to hurt those we love, what is the answer? Proverbs 19:11 gives us one answer. It says if we are wise, we will be patient, and we’ll overlook an offense. That doesn’t mean we pretend it wasn’t there… quite the contrary. We see the offense, feel the pain of it, but we choose to overlook it.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a picture of love. Love is patient and kind. It does not boast, is not easily angered. It keeps no records of wrongs. Love always trusts, always hopes. Just with those descriptions I’ve mentioned, I can easily see where I fall short. And yet, God will help us in those areas we need help.
My biggest tip-off that I fall short is the fact I have a closet where I keep my past grievances. You know, those things he did wrong. I find when I store things away, keeping the door slightly ajar, it’s easily accessible when I need to add more inside.
Love always trusts? I’m afraid I haven’t always trusted. Instead, I expected him to repeat the offense. You know, past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior? There’s no chance for the person to do better with that kind of thinking.
Love always hopes? I’m sure that means I’d be believing the best of my partner, not the worst. I fail there at times, too. When someone has a closet they store faults in, it reminds you this offense was not the first time it happened. In fact, on such and such a date…
At some point, I reevaluated my “faults closet.” I knew I needed to spend more time in what God’s Word says, and less time gathering faults and storing them away. I knew God would help me. I’m happy to say it IS possible.
God gives us verses that describe how we’re to love. Luke 6:31 says we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Would I want my husband to always remember when I was unloving? No! Would I want him to repay me for the wrongs I’ve done? Absolutely not!
God’s Word also talks about revenge. In 1 Peter 3:9, God says we are not to repay evil with evil, or insult with insult. That is pretty clear. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 also says we should not pay back wrong for wrong, but we should always strive to do what is good.
The point is clear. It’s important to remember when we are overlooking an offense, or are forgiving there is a way to do it. God tells us why we should forgive. It’s not because our offender deserves it. We did not deserve forgiveness. But God still forgave us. Just as it says in Colossians 3:13.
God took care of our offenses through what Jesus did on the cross. And Romans 5:8 tells us when God demonstrated that love. It wasn’t when we were serving God, and trusting Him. It was while we were yet sinners. But there is even more. Hebrews 10:17 tells us, not only did God forgive our sins, he said he will remember them no more. And that takes my breath away.
I think it’s pretty clear. My closet has to go. God will show me how to overlook. Just like He does, out of love.
Anne Peterson and her husband, Michael have been married for 43 years. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There: Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne has also written and published another memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival, and hope. Sign up for Anne's newsletter at www.annepeterson.com and receive a free eBook by clicking the tab. Or connect with her on Facebook.
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