Turning a Blind Eye to Transgressions
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger
A. Deferring Anger
1. Defer Defined:
a. To be long, prolong.
b. OR it can mean to postpone; delay, i.e., have a long time pass; to be patient, i.e., be in a state of calm in the midst of a trying, upsetting experience.
2. Anger Defined:
a. Literally: nose
b. Num. 22:27 – It literally says that his nose was kindled—a graphic illustration of anger… flared nostrils… perhaps with steam coming out!
c. Jer. 15:14 – A fire is kindled in mine anger (nose).
d. It comes to be used as a picture of anger, wrath, resentment,
e. To have a strong feeling of displeasure over a person or a situation
f. This term emphasizes the emotional aspect of anger and wrath – an outburst of anger rather than a quiet simmering of anger
3. The first part of the proverb does not say WHAT evoked this anger.
a. However, as with so many of the Proverbs, the second half supplies the answer.
b. The two parts of the proverb are to be considered together… they each shed light on the situation at hand.
c. Here the situation at hand… or the CAUSE of the anger is explained to us as another man’s transgression.
d. This proverb gives us some inspired advice as to how to handle the transgressions of another person.
4. But before we consider Solomon’s inspired advice, we should once again remind ourselves that this is a PROVERB.
a. Proverbs were not intended to cover EVERY possible situation.
b. Proverbs were not intended to tell us all we need to know about a particular subject.
c. Proverbs are generalizations… truth in nugget form…
d. There is an element of truth in what the proverb says… and wisdom is needed in APPLYING that truth.
e. Actually, there are times when the Bible tells us NOT to follow Solomon’s advice given here.
• There are times when it is NOT right to defer our anger against transgression.
• There are times when it is NOT right to pass over a transgression.
• But this proverb indicates that there ARE occasions when it is proper to do so.
f. Wisdom is needed to discern the difference.
5. Prov. 16:32 – It takes inner strength to be able to defer anger… to control one’s spirit—especially in a situation where someone has purposely irritated you… or sinned against you.
a. To be able to control one’s spirit speaks of inner strength—along the lines of a mighty general who conquers a city!
b. To defer one’s anger… and put it aside is a great quality.
c. Any fool can blow up and strike back.
d. It takes the strength of the Lord working in the inner man to have what it takes to defer anger… to be PATIENT with those who wrong you… to turn the other cheek when insulted… to be reviled and revile not again…
6. This is the DISCREET thing to do (wise; prudent).
a. The wise man knows that an angry reaction to bad situations only make matters worse.
b. Wisdom is patient… cool headed… and able to defer anger.
c. The way we react when attacked is a good indication of the level of our wisdom and discretion.
d. Such attacks are really tests to prove us… to show us whether we are wise or a slave of our emotions.
And it is his glory to pass over a transgression
A. Passing Over a Transgression
a. Sin, rebellion, crime, offence, fault, breach of trust.
b. It is kind of a broad term… with many possible variations.
c. But the fundamental idea of the root is a breach of relationships, civil or religious, between two parties.
d. This is KEY in interpreting this proverb.
e. Gen. 31:36 – here Jacob was angry with Laban and asked “What is my transgression?”
• In other words, “how have I offended you?”
• “What did I do against you… how have I wronged you?”
• It speaks about a possible offence or conflict between these two men.
f. The term emphasizes a breach of relationships… (often between man and God… or man and man)
2. Solomon seems to be using this term (transgression) as a breach of relationship between men…
a. As fallen human beings we DO sin against each other… we offend one another… we wrong one another.
b. You don’t have to look very hard in the Bible to find examples of men sinning against men… offending men… breaking their trust… men lying to men… men hurting the feelings of other men… men pulling a fast one on men… cheating… stealing… misleading… double crossing… not keeping a promise…
c. I’m sure we have ALL had someone—even a brother in Christ—offend us… treat us cruelly… gossip… slander… double cross us…
d. And if we were honest, we would probably all have to admit that we have not only been the victims of such transgressions… but we have also been the perpetrators at times!
3. The story of Joseph is a perfect example of a young man who was sinned against… by his own brothers.
a. They had a moral responsibility to take care of their young brother… instead, they plotted to kill him…
b. They settled for selling him into slavery in Egypt.
c. Talk about being offended… double-crossed… a breach of trust—here is an extreme illustration of that sort of “transgression.”
d. They sinned against their brother.
4. Passing over a transgression
a. Defined: the term literally speaks of linear motion… to pass over from one place to another; to take away…
b. It has lots of variations in the figurative sense…
c. II Sam. 12:13 – used in the sense of forgive. David sinned and God “put away”… passed over his sin.
d. Passing over a transgression speaks of putting it away… turning a blind eye to it… forgiving the offender…
e. Psalm 38:12-15 – David himself demonstrated this quality.
5. What should we DO when someone transgresses against us?
a. Matt. 18:15-17 – Jesus said that when someone transgresses against us we should do the opposite!
• He said that we should confront that brother with his sin.
• We should expect an apology and repentance…
• If he refuses to repent (assuming he is guilty)… then discipline is in order.
• This is very different than what Solomon says to do.
b. Solomon advises us to “pass over” his transgression. Brush it aside… sweep it away… let it roll over your back like water off a duck’s back…
c. Obviously Solomon and Jesus are not contradicting one another. Remember, this is a proverb.
d. There are times when following the pattern of Matthew 18 might be called for.
• If this is a gross sin which if left unchecked will harm the testimony of the Lord…
• If you are so offended that it is eating away at you on the insides… or you can’t sleep at night… or it is ruining relationships… or it is hindering your walk with God—then by all means confront that brother and make things right.
6. There are times when following the advice of Solomon might be in order when someone has transgressed against you:
a. If it is a minor infraction…
b. If it is offensive, but something you can handle… and you can let it go in one ear and out the other… let it!
c. If it is simply an area where that brother needs to learn and grow… ignore it…
d. If it was a moment of weakness on the other brother’s part… and he blurted out something unkind…
e. There are many occasions when this proverb ought to come to mind.
f. If we apply Matthew 18 to every little infraction against us… we will be labeled a kook… a troublemaker… and will have very few friends.
B. It is His Glory
1. Glory defined:
a. beauty, splendour, glory, honor
b. The state or quality of having an attractive appearance as the feature of an object. (a crown of glory or a crown of honor)
2. Solomon’s point is that the man who has the inner strength, the capacity, and the grace to turn a blind eye away from those who transgress against him is likened to a man of great honor.
a. This capacity is like a crown of honor upon his head.
b. It is an honorable thing…
c. Some men turn away from transgressions against them because they are too weak and cowardly to DO anything about it.
d. Other men turn away from transgressions against them out of inner strength and grace… and it is to their honor that they do so.
3. One of the most glorious qualities in Joseph is seen in his treatment of his brothers.
a. The men who sold him into slavery—years later stood before him.
b. Only this time the tables were turned… and Joseph was in the position of strength and power.
c. He COULD have had them tortured and executed.
d. Instead, he put aside his anger… he passed over their transgression… and showed them grace.
e. That took real inner strength… to forgive… to pass over their transgression.
f. As far as Joseph was concerned, (to use Solomon’s words), “it was his glory”… an honorable thing to do.
g. It is honorable… and discreet (wise)
h. May we have that inner strength from the Lord to do the honorable thing… when the circumstances call for it… and may we have the discretion to discern HOW to respond to offences.
i. As Christians, we should take this a step higher. Not only should we “pass over” such transgressions… but we should even BLESS those who curse, revile, or insult us…