By Allen White
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. Proverbs 12:16
Years ago I was exiting the choir room at church with a friend. As we walked out the door, we ran into my racquetball partner (it was a long time ago). He made some comment I can’t remember now. I don’t know if he was trying to be funny or what.
The person I was walking with turned to me and said, “You’re not going to let him get away with that are you?”
I told him it wasn’t a big deal. After all, how many stupid things have I ever said that I wished I could take back? As a pastor, if you took every random comment to heart more than likely you’d end up in a mental institution. Water off a duck’s back.
Now, don’t get the idea I am trying to elevate myself to “prudent” in the proverb. To be honest, it was for the sake of survival. As the great theologian Kenny Rogers sings, “You’re got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Carrying every small offense around with you certainly becomes a heavy burden.
In fact, if we cling to every offense, we’ll reach a point where we can’t remember why we dislike certain people. After all, we’ve started to dislike everyone.
While in some circumstances, I can overlook an offense and be prudent. Other times, I do show my annoyance and play the fool. Often I am not listening to everything the other person is saying. I make an assumption as to where the conversation is going, then I react. Or, I take offense at their words only later to realize it wasn’t about me anyway.
The Bible advises us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). How many problems could be avoided, if we listened more and talked less?
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