One of the most important principles for resolving conflicts or differences in relationships is overlooking an offense.

by Dave Boehi

Direct Link to Article on FamilyLife: I Love Fall, So I’ll Overlook Halloween

Like many of you, this is my favorite time of
year.  Here in Arkansas, the summers are so hot and humid that we greet fall
like the appearance of a long-lost friend.   It’s cool and dry, the sky shines
in bright blue, the leaves are changing, and football season is in full swing.
It’s the best time of the year to play golf.  It feels fresh.

There’s one thing I don’t like much about fall,
though, and that is Halloween.  Oh, I used to love trick-or-treating as a kid,
and I enjoyed taking my daughters through the neighborhood when they were
little.  But now I’m just tired of it.

I’m tired of people dressing up as zombies and
serial killers.  I’m tired of the annual celebration of blood and gore—the new
horror movies and the nonstop television listings of film series like Friday
the 13
th and Nightmare on Elm Street and
Saw and Jeepers Creepers and Final Destination.
Every year I’m glad Halloween is over.

So here’s the deal I make each year with the
calendar:  I will choose to overlook Halloween as long as I can enjoy the fall.

If you think about it, you make choices like that regularly.  You choose to
overlook a flaw, or an offense, because something else is more important.

You choose to overlook—to look past—a candidate’s faults in an election
because you believe in everything else he or she stands for.

You overlook a football coach’s mistakes as long as he wins games.

You overlook your dog’s disobedience and chewing holes in the furniture and
jumping up on guests and the fact that he’s still not house-trained after a year
because … well, I’m still trying to figure that one out …

In relationships, one of the most important principles for resolving
conflicts or differences is overlooking an offense.  The more you get
to know someone, the more you understand his or her strengths and weaknesses.
If this is an important, long-term relationship, you choose what you will
overlook so that you can keep the relationship strong.

In the months after Merry and I were married, I slowly began to realize that
my new spouse was … how do I say this … slightly less than perfect.  We had
little arguments about keeping up our home.  Sometimes she said things that made
me angry.   I discovered she could be selfish and unreasonable.

Some of our conflicts took some time and effort to resolve.  But I also
learned—slowly, I admit—to ignore or pass over some perceived offenses.  This is
the principle described in Proverbs 19:11:  “Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

I recently completed the Peacemaker Ministries course, “Resolving Everyday
Conflict,” and this principle of overlooking an offense was one of the first
points that was taught.  We were challenged to ask, “Is this worth fighting
over?” Quoting from the participant guide, overlooking an offense is appropriate

  • The offense has not “created a wall between you and the other person or
    caused you to feel differently toward him or her for more than a short period of
  • The offense is not causing “serious harm” to God’s reputation, to others, or
    to the offender.
  • The offense “is not part of a destructive pattern.”

It’s not necessary to overlook all offenses.  Instead, “ask God to help you
discern and overlook minor wrongs.”

In other words, choose your battles wisely.  If you want to build a marriage
that will last a lifetime, you’ll find that many offenses are not worth fighting