“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
What did Jesus mean when He said to take up our cross daily? It is one of those sayings that we hear all of the time in the Evangelical world, but one we might not entirely understand. A cross was an instrument of death, and represented dying. Essentially, Jesus is commanding those who would follow Him to die to themselves continually; total and absolute surrender. What does that look like? Here is an example: If it is between keeping a friend, and obeying Jesus, you choose Jesus and lose the friend.
One of the most difficult aspects to taking up one’s cross is to overlook an offense. At least it is true for me; sometimes I am better at it than other times. When someone does us wrong, our natural response is to feel justified in being upset about it. We’re the victim; we’ve been wronged! It is our right to be upset! But what does the Bible say?
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Certainly in the case of safety, law-breaking, or a host of other things dictated by common sense, we must not sweep sin under the rug. I’m not advocating for churches to conceal child abuse, or force victims of domestic violence to accept their situations. What the verses above are getting at is an attitude of extending forgiveness when someone has sinned against us. Rather than claiming our right to be offended and upset, we are exhorted to extend grace and forgiveness, overlooking the wrong to promote peace. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
In a Got Questions? article about love covering a multitude of sins, the author says: “Some sins against us are not worth confronting. Personal slights, snide or ignorant remarks, and minor annoyances can be easily forgiven for the sake of love.” That is the heart of concealing an offense. Let me share an example from my own life. Shortly after I was saved, while my children were both young elementary school students, I had another school mother make a thoughtless remark to me about my own children. I can’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but we were discussing our kids and she was attempting to articulate that my kids were not overly worldly or influenced by pop culture (totally accurate!). She said something to the effect of “you know, nerds like your kids.” I did not believe at the time, nor do I today, that this lady was being malicious or intentionally unkind. She was just trying to express her observations about how my children were not really hip with the worldly trends, which is entirely true.
The Holy Spirit enabled me to recognize that her remark was thoughtless, but not malicious. I was able, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to overlook the offense. Prior to salvation I would have been incensed, but because of the new nature that was given to me upon regeneration, I was able to react differently. It was a milestone in my infant spiritual life; evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in me; an encouragement from the Lord! I do not share that example to malign the other mom, nor to point to myself, but rather to point to Christ. It was His work in me that allowed me to take up my cross and overlook an offense. As I said earlier, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. 🙂
All we believers are a work in progress. Sometimes sanctification is slow, other times it is readily visible. I encourage my readers, as well as myself, to look for opportunities to conceal or overlook an offense. Extend forgiveness, even when you have a right to be upset. Take up your cross, and follow Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!