Overlooking Offense


I was at a meeting at our church to help mediate between two dear friends who just needed the opportunity to let God restore their hearts towards one another.

I had prepared my heart with the verse, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense,” found in Proverbs 19:11, which I never even needed to pull out, since my friends both entered the room eager to make amends and restore their fellowship.

Ah, what a sweet blessing to be part of and a beautiful reconciliation to behold!

After our meeting, while still in the church building, I decided to try to find the closet where our ministry of Compassion keeps clothing for our Safe Families ministry. The closet had recently been moved, and I had no idea where to find it. My family was taking in a four-month old baby the next day, and I needed baby boy clothes for what could be a 4-8 week placement.

Finding the Pastor of Compassion, he kindly volunteered to hunt down the building services manager, while I waited nearby.

Neither of them realized that, though I couldn’t see either of them, I could overhear the conversation between their phones echoing in the hallways near where I was waiting. One of them was on a speaker: “Ok. This really isn’t a very convenient time. Doesn’t she realize we have Kids Camp going on this week?” “Yeah, I understand, and I’m sorry. Could you maybe just meet her and let her in to the storage area?” A pause. “Yeah, sure. Send her over.”

My first thought, to my shame, was indignant pride. “Here we are trying to help this single mom and take in her baby. I can’t help that I need to get some of the clothes we keep here for this very purpose, and that they’re kept behind locked doors. The baby is coming tomorrow.”

“It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

The verse that I had taken note of to share earlier with my friends popped into my mind.

I felt embarrassed. Of course I should have thought of the fact that the Building Services crew were probably overworked with tons of extra jobs with over 1,000 kids doing their fun activities all over the building.

What if that was the verse my brother in Christ was thinking of regarding me, and what probably appeared as my own selfish insensitivity? He didn’t know about the baby coming into our home. He had no idea how our ministry worked; that the clothing I needed was in bins behind locked doors, to which he held the key.

He was helping me out by opening the door, and rather than seeing it from his perspective, I had been consumed with my own.

“It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” How often could we put this verse to use just within the space of a day? Many times, for sure! Assuming the best of one another, not seeking to find offense in the minor things that Satan would love to use to divide us. Being willing to overlook unintended ‘offenses’…it is to one’s glory not to focus on those and needlessly squeeze hurt from them.

God’s humor wasn’t lost on me as I thought about how I had readied my mind with that verse, intending to use it as a word of counsel for my friends, finding instead that God used it for my own heart that needed correcting!

“Forgive me, Lord, for my heart that is so selfish and easily offended. Please help me to more readily overlook offense, and to be grateful for those that overlook my offenses against them, too. In the power and precious Name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask, Amen.”


True Christmas Joy by Sarah Depledge


“Come along, my son- hurry along, my son,

Try to keep up with me.

We have a shop or two we’ll pop into,

Then Santa we’ll go see.”


He toddled right beside her,

Just above her knee,

He clutched onto her finger

And stared wide-eyed with glee.


Meager clothing labeled him

As a needy boy;

He was unaware of this,

And watched the world with joy.


She bagged some orange carrots

And bartered with the grocer,

“This pepper has a squishy spot-

Might you, please, take less, sir?”


They wove through mobs of shoppers,

And looked up at the tree,

Strings of lights and ribbons

Cascaded merrily.


Every branch bore ornaments,

Amid bright, sparkling lights,

The little boy stared wonderingly

As he beheld the sights.


He sat on Santa’s lap and shared

That he had just turned three,

Excited for the lollipop-

“Look what he gave me!”


His mother smiled as Santa said,

“You be both kind and good.”

He nodded and he promised:

He would do just as he should.


They walked on home and put the bag

Of vegetables away,

She started making supper,

While he began to play.


He made a lovely picture,

Drawn by his own hand.

She smiled and tied it on their tree,

With string to a bare strand.


“But Mama, it is all we have

Hanging on our tree.

The one we saw was jammed with things –

And it was so pretty.”


He pointed with his finger,

“That only fills an empty spot.”

She pulled him close and kissed him,

“With love we don’t need a lot.”


“Christmas belongs to everyone

Whether rich or poor;

It’s not about a tree, or things

You purchase at a store.


Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth

And the gift He brought,

When He paid for all our sins,

And became the gift, for us.”


He climbed into his rickety chair,

Folded his hands and prayed,

“Thank you, God, for our food,

And for this day You made.”


They ate their simple meal.

Worriedly she said,

“I wish I had more to give you –

Some meat, perhaps some bread.”


“I’m fine, Mama, really.

May I get down and play?”

“Indeed”, she said and kissed his head,

Blessed by his sweet way.


After a bit, she told him,

My son, it’s time to sleep.”

He yawned and gave her a big hug,

And crawled under the sheet.


She tucked the fabric round him

Trying to keep out the cold,

“I wish you had a blanket-

This sheet’s so worn and old.”


Assuring her, he touched her hand,

“I’m fine, Mama- toasty hot…

Besides, it’s like you said-

With love, we don’t need a lot.”


A tear fell down her cheek

That she quickly brushed away.

She laid beside her little boy,

And she began to pray,


“Dear God, I want to thank You,

For your many gifts to me.

For food to eat- even for this sheet-

And your gift on Calvary.”


The years passed swiftly, hard and lean,

All with little ease.

He grew up and she grew old,

A victim of disease.


Over time the difficult

Hardship took its toll;

She watched sadly as his joy,

The thief called Anger, stole.


She grew weak and he grew cold,

And deeper in despair.

In his temper at her fate,

He raged, “It is not fair!”


But her lips would only praise,

Despite her need and pain,

“Son, God has been so good to me,

Why should I complain?”


“Good?” he snarled, “Good, you say?

How can you believe?

We went without- I have my doubt

If God cares that we grieve.


The hardships of this world are cruel-

You suffer needlessly.

You may choose to trust in God-

I don’t – just let me be.”


In protest and in pleading,

She tried to help him see,

“My son, don’t grieve this life I leave –

Put a smile on your face for me.”


“Remember the truth you learned from youth

Of all that I have taught –

If we trust in Jesus’ gift of love

We really don’t need a lot.”


He could not give this joy to her

For destruction in his heart,

Had deepened over several years…

Soon, this life she did depart.


Alone and angry with the world,

The loss of her he felt.

Fed by his bitter, lonely lot,

His anger would not melt.


He employed every moment

Into money making schemes;

Clever thoughts and constant work

Turned reality from dreams.


Though rich with wealth, and good in health,

He enjoyed not his new treasure:

He harbored anger from his past

And rarely enjoyed pleasure.


Stiff and stingy, mean and hard

He cared not for another.

Lonely, dark and brooding,

He thought not about his mother.


One day he was walking home,

His usual, surly way

When he heard a little boy

To his mother say,


“Oh, Mama, please don’t worry-

My tummy is full enough-

I love you, and it’s like you say,

‘With Jesus, we don’t need ‘stuff.'”


The man gasped as he remembered,

Words from long before,

That expressed his faith in Jesus,

Despite pain at his door.


He glimpsed the boy whose simple trust

Pierced through his bitter haze:

Love shone like a beacon

From the mother’s smiling gaze.


Crippled and in clear need,

The pair stood close together,

Hands clasped in prayerful trust

A sweet boy and his mother.


Much in need of earthly things,

But Faith their biggest treasure;

The man’s convicted heart

Warmed a noticeable measure.


Contrite, he felt a tear

Coursing down his face;

How had he let all his hurt

Let all his joy, erase?


Hadn’t his mother’s example been

To trust in God above?

Despite the heartaches of this world,

To have faith in Jesus’s love?


New softness shone upon his face,

A smile replaced his frown

He almost became giddy,

Touched by the hope he’d found.


He dug into his pockets,

Gave them all that he had there,

“Thank you, sir! May God be praised!

And bless you for your care!”


He danced a little step,

His eyes – they twinkled brightly,

He tipped his hat, light-hearted,

And walked the street more sprightly.


Freed from hate’s dark bondage,

He raised his voice in praise,

“I’d forgotten what joy feels like!”

He marveled, in a daze.


He greeted those around him,

Gave to all with generous heart;

Lightened from his burden:

He’d been granted a fresh start.


A few nights later on Christmas Eve,

He was kneeling near her grave.

“Mother, thank you for the life you led,

And for the love you gave.”


The tears that fell upon the stone

Bearing record of her name,

Were softened by his gentle cry,

And his heartfelt shame.


“It took a while for me to learn

What you tried to teach,

This life is hard, but we have hope,

That’s far beyond death’s reach.


I wish it hadn’t taken me

So long to embrace the truth;

I came tonight to thank you,

For teaching me from youth.


You were right – it is true

Now Jesus is my Savior.

I trust in him alone,

And rejoice in his favor.


Know some day I’ll join you and

Be blessed, oh, Mother, dear,

For I have learned to trust in God

Now, death I do not fear.


Late I come, with this last hope –

That somehow you may see,

The smile on my face you wished,

But I would not grant thee.”


Like windows into Heaven,

Stars were twinkling in the night,

And he imagined she gazed down

At him with great delight.


He left there with a firmer step,

And comfort on his part.

For he was sure his mother knew

That Love had pierced his heart.


He thought back to the words of Christ

He’d heard from long ago,

Wishing he hadn’t forgotten

Or time had wasted so:


“Peace I leave you, peace on Earth;

Not like the world can give-

Let all who come to Me have rest,

And all who come, will Live.”


So, this Christmas season,

May Joy be in your heart,

For we have hope beyond the grave,

Through Christ, a brand-new start!


~ sarah depledge






Roots of Bitterness


I listened carefully and with sympathy to the woman who shared her story of pain. There was room for legitimate grief in what she had experienced. But the thing I began to hear the most was the thread of bitterness woven through her narrative. Years earlier she had been neglected, abused, misused, and unfairly treated. She had suffered at the hand of someone she had trusted. And she blamed God.

As I sat there, a phrase jumped into my mind that my dear Mom used to use with us girls: Mental Attitude Sin. I remember if one of us shared a woeful tale of some hurtful situation, she would listen and let us unburden ourselves; but it stopped there. “That was a painful thing you endured. But now you need to let it go and not let it develop into a sinful mental attitude on your part, honey.” Boy those were painful lessons.

There were times I felt like she didn’t understand. Couldn’t I soak just a little in the luxury of harboring anger toward the one who had wronged me? Nope – not with our Mom. She would remind us that self-pity parties were dangerous events to host, because they appeal to our fleshly desire to wallow instead of heal, to let it fester instead of forgive, and can build a thick wall that hardens us to the truth of how to become truly FREE.

All these years later, I am very thankful for her Godly wisdom. So many people are trapped by the stranglehold of bitterness. Yes, there are hard and painful circumstances that are wrong, cruel and sinful; but life isn’t always easy, and God expects us to come running to Him with our burdens and hurts, not to nurse them into reasons to become angry.

When we allow the pain to fester, we are hurting ourselves most. The definition of the word fester is: to rot, mold, decay, putrefy, rankle, smolder, gnaw away, spoil, deteriorate. Is that really something we want taking root in our hearts and minds??

Hebrews 12:15 tells us, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Roots are underground, out of sight, but left undisturbed, they grow and the “fruit” becomes evident. The fruit of the root of bitterness is resentment, heartache and left unchecked, hardness of heart.

So what is the solution? What should our response be to difficulty in life?

Hebrews 12:7-11, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Oh my dear sister, isn’t that wonderful news to hear?! I rejoice in the truth that God has designed even the hard things of life to become tools for good in His masterful hand!

If we willingly submit, even to painful circumstances, asking God to help us, and keep us soft and pliant for His glory, He will help us to endure – and bring us to the place where the “fruit” of righteousness and peace are produced in our lives. That gives me such hope.

This life is short – for the follower of Jesus, we have the hope of better things to come! Are we using the time we have here on Earth to forgive and release people from their sins against us, and to build a healthy and reverent submission to God? Or, are we working on making our root of bitterness stronger by staying out of God’s word and resisting His gentle prompting to come to Him to experience His healing comfort?

It’s a choice each person must decide for themselves.

What is your choice? Let’s talk – you know – between friends.