Do you want to be right or in relationship?

By Alan Wright — April 11, 2019

People will do offensive things, but you don’t have to take offense.

Today’s Text: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11, ESV)

If you’re like me (and most people), the sight of injustice makes you angry. I’d like to say that my righteous indignation is focused daily on the highest forms of injustice in the world like unfair economic systems and flawed criminal justice systems. But, sadly, most days, I’m more likely to get upset about the injustice of someone breaking into my lane in traffic.

I’m embarrassed to confess that some years ago, while on a college exploratory trip with my daughter, I became utterly focused on keeping a driver out of my lane. We were on a double lane interstate road that was full of warning signs about a left lane closing ahead. Everyone knew the lane was coming to an end but there were those greedy few who were trying to sneak down the left lane as far as possible and then whip in front of someone in the right lane. Sometimes tractor-trailer trucks will ride side by side to prevent people from this sort of rude lane grabbing behavior. In my case, it was two pickup trucks that moved toward the center of the two lanes to keep an SUV from passing them. The driver directly behind the pickup trucks snuggled just inches behind the trucks in order to prevent the SUV from sneaking into the right lane. So, it was up to me. I couldn’t break the chain. So I hugged the rear bumper of the car in front of me. It became my mission to keep the rude SUV from getting into the right lane. It went on for a long, slow moving half-mile and no one let in the SUV. After the left lane had disappeared, the two pickup truck drivers gave each other the heroic thumbs up in celebration.

My momentary feeling of satisfaction quickly melted into a gulp. What had I done? I’d just worn myself out trying to keep a single car from entering my lane – to what end? Just to prove myself in the right. If I’d just let the rude driver in, I could have enjoyed that part of the trip with my daughter. What’s worse, I started wondering about the chances that the SUV driver was a parishioner!

People are going to do offensive things. There’s no stopping it. But you don’t have to take offense. In fact, the proverb says, it is a glorious thing to be able to overlook an offense. All of hell wants to persuade you to focus on the law – you better get what you deserve, don’t let anyone get away with anything.  It’s the mantra of the easily offended – win every argument, prove yourself right and the other person wrong.

I heard someone put it this way: Do you want to be right or in relationship? There are some offenses in life that you absolutely, resolutely have to stand against. But most of them won’t happen today. Today, you’ll be happier if you just let the rude SUV into your lane. And that’s the Gospel!

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