We take ourselves so seriously.
Our wounded pride feeds our memory and makes it strong.
Unless, that is, we have learned to seek love as more precious than the satisfaction of our selective demand for justice.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 ESV)
True to its instinct, the proverb does not treat an offense as a remote possibility. It stands before us, this injury a friend has done to us. We have been hurt, perhaps humiliated. There is no other way to say it.
But the one wise enough to ‘cover’ an offense, to respond as though it had not occurred or as though it is of no consequence, seeks love.
If it were not for the moving current of realism that flows ceaselessly down the stream bed of biblical wisdom, we might get this proverb wrong in the other direction. That is, we might conclude that injustice and injury are never the weighty matters that the biblical witness calls them out to be. Proverbs 17.9 does not dispute that fact.
Rather, the saying speaks to the day-to-day humiliations and losses that we inevitably suffer in the milling about of fickle friends, insensitive neighbors, and dumb relatives. We can dwell on these things as though life and death swings in the balance.
Or we can choose to overlook such slights, secure enough in ourselves and the constancy of those who genuinely have our back that we are free to pursue love instead of insisting on justice.
To do otherwise, the proverb instructs, us is to ‘separate friends’. You can dwell on such small-ish pains, the proverb would have us understand, but you’ll be alone in the end if you do.
Biblical wisdom is easily misunderstood by the more righteously absolutist among us precisely because it traffics in nuance and requires a sense of proportion. The proverb before us is particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding.
‘Get over yourself …’, would not be a misleading abbreviation. Seek love, get back in there with your clumsy friends, look forward not backwards.
Let it go.
It’s not the end of the world.
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