“A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
While the TSA may admonish air travelers, “If you see something, say something,” perhaps God’s advice would more often be, “If you see something, pray something.”
The most Christ-like, holy action we take today might be to close our mouths: to choose prayer over retaliation, intercession over criticism.
Perhaps the best way to hone this spiritual life skill is to practice the habit of “prayer walking” — allowing what you see to prompt you to pray. Resist the urge to condemn as you walk, drive, and shop … and instead transform the criticism into prayer and bounce it up to God.
It is easy to walk with a critical spirit. But it requires the power of the Holy Spirit to overlook an offense and choose the way of prayer.
As is often the case, our obedience rolls blessing back upon us. When God releases me from my addiction to self-righteousness and my preoccupation with my rights or my offense, I am ready for transformation. This is when the Holy Spirit permits me to see people and situations as God sees them.
Consider these scenarios where condemnation (or inward or outward eye-rolling) might be our first response, and how we might instead offer up intentional intercession:
Reckless driver (who might not remain wreck-less for long!)
As a mom with children in the car, a driver endangering the lives of my darlings prompted righteous indignation from this mama bear. Rather than yelling “Fool!” from the inside of my car or even using my horn to communicate my offense, what if instead my children heard me pray aloud:
Lord, I pray the young man driving that car would see his life as a gift from You. He is created in your image. Please prompt Him to treasure and value his life as You do, and to steward his life and his days well that he might live to bring You glory.
I can remember sitting in church a number of years ago, behind a teenage girl dressed in a way I considered inappropriate. With my young boys sitting next to me, I was distracted by her attire and couldn’t help wondering if my sons were, too. I found myself thinking, “Was she trying to draw attention to herself?” And my criticism was not limited to her, as my next thought came, “Why did her mother allow her to leave home dressed that way?”Bouncing my focus might lead me to intercede:
Lord, I pray blessing over this young woman. May her identity be found in You alone. I pray she would see that outward appearances matter little (and let me acknowledge that, also, Father). And Lord, I pray that my daughters — and my sons, as well — would dress and behave in ways that honor You always and in all ways.
You have probably been behind her (or maybe another like her) in the checkout line. She’s the one yelling at her kids, “If you don’t…I’m gonna…!” But they know she’s not gonna. I know she’s not gonna. The cashier, everyone in our lane, and the people in the three lanes on either side of ours all know she’s not gonna. Instead of silently sighing, mentally rolling my eyes, and tapping my foot faster, I am convicted to pray:
Lord, bless this frazzled young mom. Give her peace in the midst of a very challenging season in life. Bring alongside a mentor mom to encourage and equip her for this difficult task of child raising. I pray she would look to You for everything she needs.
While Matthew 18 does call us to “go and show” when we are sinned against by another, my guess is that we are more often offended (or simply irritated) than actually sinned against. Before jumping quickly to “go and show” (Matthew 18:15-17), perhaps we should try to “let it go” (Proverbs 19:11) first.
How is God calling you to close your mouth — and perhaps drop to your knees — today