The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
You can be glorious today, for someone will surely offend you. With the discretion of God’s wisdom, you can defer your anger and ignore his or her transgression against you. You can turn the other cheek, pass over the provocation, and choose mercy over wrath. But only those obeying Jesus Christ and taught by the Holy Spirit will ever do so.
Discretion is the ability to know the right action for any occasion. Deferring is putting off, delaying, or postponing something. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends you. It is the mark of a wise man, a gracious and gentle spirit. It is a mark of Christian maturity, for only wicked fools quickly strike back.
Most people, when offended by others, bristle with hostility, choose to be hurt, get indignant, bite back, and plot revenge. They have no discretion, for feelings rule their hearts. They do not know deferment, for they react first, then think about it later. This is the mark of a proud and froward spirit (Pr 16:28; 28:25), contrary to wisdom and grace.
Anger is temporary insanity, and to give in to its hot and hasty demands will surely cause you to misjudge an offence and retaliate out of proportion (Pr 14:17). Once an offence is turned into conflict and strife, then you have a war that is not easily ended (Pr 17:14; 18:19). Discretion is the wise choice to regain your sanity before judging an offence.
You should learn that anger not released will dissipate; it will soon evaporate. Often by the next day, you can hardly remember offences of the previous day. But this benefit requires two things – you must defer your anger by not releasing it, and you must keep a spirit that rejoices to pass over offences. Learn to defer your anger, reader (Pr 14:29).
You must choose a spirit that glories in forgiving those who hurt you, by choosing the way of wisdom, peace, and love (Pr 17:9; I Cor 13:4-7; Jas 3:17). The spirit that glories in quick retaliation or retribution is from hell (Jas 3:14-16), and you should reject and despise it. Man’s natural inclination prides itself in quickly spotting and righting personal wrongs, but this is wickedness. Choose mercy, peace, and love instead.
The transgressions here are personal offences against you. This proverb is not teaching you to pass over, or compromise with, sins against God or rightful authority. Parental authority, civil government, and employers must still enforce rules. The offences here are the relatively minor transgressions of others that irritate and provoke you.
This is a wonderful proverb, one of the best. If practiced consistently, personal relationships would be perfect and human societies would be joyful and productive. This is true love and friendship. Marriages observing this rule will be glorious. Churches practicing this discretion will be happy and Spirit-filled. If everyone overlooked personal offences and gloried in the opportunity to forgive, life could be wonderful.
But pride keeps a man from deferring anger. He must strike back in quick revenge to protect his imagined superiority and hurt feelings. Desiring preeminence over others, he must protect his self-interests. Sullen faces appear, sharp words are spoken, criticisms are hurled without cause, and blows might even be thrown. This is a proud fool.
God’s wisdom does not change. Jesus taught this rule plainly in Matthew 5:38-48, where He called for offering another cheek to personal enemies. He said not to resist evil, when it is a personal offence against you. He said to do good to your personal enemies. This is the way of godly peacemakers, and they become very good at it. They glory in forgiving, and they are glorious in the forgiveness they give enemies. They are the true sons of God.
Peter, ever the impetuous disciple, asked Jesus how often he had to forgive a brother offending him. He wanted the limit at seven, after which he could justify revenge, but Jesus raised the bar to seventy times seven, far above Peter’s natural discretion (Matt 18:21-35). Yet by the strength of Christ, you can be so godly and righteous (Phil 4:13).
The world does not know the wisdom of this proverb. It honors men who will not put up with offences, men who strike back quickly and harder than they were struck. They glorify men that violently retaliate and get in the last retort or last blow.
But God’s mighty men are those who love mercy and can overlook personal offences and ignore their own hurt or loss (Mic 6:8; I Cor 6:1-8). God will show mercy toward such men and make them great, like He did David for his treatment of Saul (Ps 18:19-26).
Christianity is the religion of forgiveness, for it is the cornerstone of your relationship with God and others (Matt 6:14-15; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-13). It takes far more grace and character to overlook a personal offence than to strike back in anger. Godly wisdom and strength is the desire and ability to rule a hasty spirit (Pr 16:32; Jas 1:19-20). Those who think passing over offences is weakness, fear, and compromise are fools.
When the LORD Jehovah revealed His glory to Moses, “the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex 34:6). Observe what constitutes the glory of God! His mercy, grace, longsuffering, goodness, and truth! How godly are you?
You will be offended today by how others treat you. It is a certainty in a sinful world. You will have numerous opportunities to practice wisdom, grace, and glory. What will you do? Will you defer anger or resentment and glory in an opportunity to show the grace of Jesus Christ in your life? Or will you strike back verbally or bodily in self-protection?
May the grace and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ convince you by His Spirit to practice this proverb. Overcome evil with good! May the world see your good works of mercy and forgiveness and the kingdom of God increased and improved by your actions.