Verse: Proverbs 17:9
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
I find it interesting that every devotion that I get to write is about an area that I need to work on or that I am working on. Maybe that is just God saying I have a lot of work to do! Are you easily offended? People cut us off in traffic or they walk in front of us in line at the grocery store (both happened to me Saturday). Maybe you find out that a friend said something unkind about you or someone said something hurtful about you online.
An offense is when someone does something wrong toward you. Your reply is to be offended. Then you either sulk or simmer or say something stupid. We assume that this person had bad intentions. They cut us off on purpose or maybe they are just terrible, hateful people. The beginning of this proverb says that we promote love if we cover over an offense. If we see the offending person as God sees them, through loving eyes, we will likely see a person who is hurting and broken and lonely and in need of God, just as we are. The person who walked in front of me at the grocery store realized what she had done after a few seconds and said, “Oh, did I cut in front of you?” And I told her it was fine and smiled hoping I would be treated the same way when I am walking in a daze. Forgiving people, especially for minor wrongdoings, shows them what God looks like since He is love.
The second part of this proverb takes this offense another step further. Sometimes when we are offended, instead of trying to resolve this hurt with the person that committed the offense, we talk badly about the offender to others. Intellectually we know that this isn’t the right thing to do but it is so tempting to talk with one set of friends about how good we are compared to our other friends. This always ends badly. Most likely this will get back to your offending friend who now knows that you talk badly about him behind his back and the close friendship ends. You may lose other friends who find out.
Some small offenses can be covered over and we can be less offendable. Bigger offenses may need to be addressed, but with the offending party. If you need advice, pray about it and then decide if you need wise counsel from an older person in the faith. It is counter-cultural to be less offendable. Maybe that is a clue that God wants us to not react with offense and anger, but to respond as he does toward us, with love.