Sally told Nicole that she would call regarding the Jason Upton concert. She forgot! Ouch. Sally enjoyed herself, while Nicole wondered why she wasn’t contacted. Nicole called Jennifer and told the story. Jennifer asked her if Sally had purposely not called. At first she said, “No,” but then wondered if Sally didn’t want her along because Marty was driving. They constructed an airtight case against Nicole. By the time they said goodbye, they didn’t appreciate Sally’s purposeful memory lapse.
Solomon knew of such conversations and wrote: “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9). Two choices confronted Nicole: cover the offense or share the hurt, endangering a friendship. She chose the latter. A denial by Sally the next day only confirmed that she was lying.
The low road of humility means forgiving the offense, not assuming the worst. The high road of pride means that Nicole treats her wound as something worth attending to. Pride says, “I should not suffer at your expense.” Had she forgiven Sally, God would have said, “Well done.” Now she will be charged by the high court of heaven for dismantling a friendship.
Jennifer is charged as an accomplice. Had she cared about Nicole, she would have said, “I don’t think Sally meant anything.” The flesh enjoys taking up someone else’s offense.
Solomon returned to this theme in the next chapter, describing what happens to Nicole and anyone cradling a grievance: “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel” (Prov. 18:19). Those taking this option are locked up. Such people are “turned over to the jailers” (Matt. 18:34). They are imprisoned by their emotional reaction and hiding in their fortress of self-justification.
Nicole said to Jennifer, “Thanks for understanding. Pray for Sally. I feel much better being able to talk about this.” In fact, she feels worse, and she has shared her poison with someone too foolish to reject it. Owning the wound, she imparts it to a friend under the guise of prayer. Call it treason.
Solomon’s alternative to imprisonment comes again when he writes, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11). Glory is the manifestation of character. Those who go the way of humility and rise above the offense are doing what Jesus did at the cross. We can die to a friend’s forgetfulness because Jesus died first. May we be empowered by the Spirit for this kind of glorious action.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9). How do we cover over an offense? What happens if we choose not to?
“An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel” (Prov. 18:19). What happens to those who hold onto an offense?
“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:10). What two options do we have with a potential offense? Describe the person who chooses to overlook it or forgive it. Which one do you most likely choose?