Our grandson John Lewis Carpenter and I have enjoyed some playful conversation since he learned to speak. One of our dialects has been what I would call "mob speak". Whenever we meet I usually say "owyadoin?", the Corleone family words of introduction. You know, "how are you doing?". John Lewis usually replies, "meet my little friend", another import from The Godfather script. Then we'd both say, "fughedaboudit", a reminder to move on to another topic. There's never been any offense to anyone intended. Just some fun words we picked up from catching bits and pieces of movie lore. It's the "fughedaboudit" slang that registers with me right now. Learning to actually "Forget about it..." in life is one of those relational graces that is so difficult to master. That's why "Forget about it..." are three power words. When we learn to actualize that idea, much of the relational stress we experience with others is shoved to the background. These three words can be an entry portal to settling disputes, perceived wrongs, and the other clashes that can so easily separate us from the valued people in our lives.
Suddenly we've become the touchy-feely culture of thin skin and delicate sensitivities. Being offended is usually a word, gesture, or action away. Personal space is a new dimension in the space-time continuum these days, a domain that is well-guarded and entered by invitation only. Unauthorized access is typically viewed as an invasion of our privacy. Being offended is easily accomplished in this kind of world. And, when offense happens, we usually tote it around on our shoulders. Too bad our memory synapses don't have a delete button! The hard stuff is etched deeper there. They trigger our emotions and often result in human collision. ll meaning that some of us are easily offended.
Offenses typically multiply the hard stuff. They produce some difficult emotional responses. The Apostle Paul identified many of them in his letter to the Galatians, to whom he wrote---
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,
sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,
drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those
who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5: 19-21, ESV
Please note that many of these works of the flesh aren't the outcome of relational stress. The ones that ignite offense and retribution are highlighted for application to this blog topic. They are typically the inner engines that place us at odds with others.
Wise King Solomon knew about criticism, being corrected, targeted, labeled, threatened, rejected, and dozens of other personal slights. Many of his Proverbs are advice about responses to them, learned in his school of hard knocks. One of them always registers something deep in me, what I would consider a hard "Forget about it..." exercise. He wrote---
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19: 11, ESV
Two spiritual disciplines are apparent in Solomon's counsel. One, being slow to anger, and two, the wisdom to overlook an offense. The anger thing is another repeated theme in Scripture. Practical James wrote---
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to
James 1:19, ESV
Of course, the spiritual antidote for being quickly angered is to live the life of faith so that spiritual fruit can grow is us. This fruit is what the Apostle Paul wrote about---
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5: 22-23, ESV
Imagine how this fruit could cure the thin skin that characterizes so many of us.
Overlooking an offense is equally difficult. Every one of us wears protective armor to guard what we perceive to be our most precious asset, self. Offenses usually challenge and and injure us. And, they are hard to overlook. Dozens of Scriptures provide counsel in developing the grace of saying "Forget about it..." when considering a response to an offense. My personal favorite is a verse by the hand of Simon Peter---
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering
1 Peter 2: 19, ESV
It's really very simple. We overlook offenses by looking up to God.
Some offenses are grievous and the Bible gives us ample guidance in dealing with them. Jesus told his disciples, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Matthew 18: 15-17, ESV).
Still, many offenses aren't destructive. We should ask God for wisdom (see James 1: 5) in determining those that are worthy of a response, and those which should be overlooked.
You know, "Forget about it...".