Forgiveness: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

8 October 2014

© Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw 2014

Last time (7 October 2014) I wrote that we forgive only when someone repents, but also that we must overlook most things, which is what I want to emphasize this time, lest we go around with a chip on our shoulder, daring anyone to say anything, and we jump them for their sins.


The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression (Proverbs 19:11).

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).



Have you seen a nervous cat, one that hisses at everything in its path? When I grew up, people used to say, “She is as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

A perfect illustration is the movie War of the Roses? I commend it to you, for it is a graphic illustration of how things can escalate when forgiveness is not extended for small things, peccadilloes quickly becoming Mt. Everests, thereby keeping the dominoes from falling. The stars in the movie are three who made a number of movies together: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglass, and Danny DeVito. Turner and Douglas are married and have the last name Rose, thus War of the Roses. DeVito is the attorney for Douglass in the divorce suit between the Roses.

Initially the Roses are very happy, their spats are few and quickly gotten over, but for some inexplicable reason, their relationship gradually becomes like two cats who spit at one another every time their paths cross, with backs arching. Neither one is willing to admit any wrongdoing, not even one mite. They become increasingly irritated with one another until it escalates to horrendous proportions, one upping one another until they injure one another’s pets, destroy vehicles, and so on (see the movie). Both want the house, and neither is willing to give an inch. She wants him to move out, but he wants her to admit to wrong doing, even one little pinch of wrong doing. She refuses so he won’t move out.

Then he devises a plan for them to “share” the house: they will have certain areas that belong to each and the other is not allowed in those areas. Then each can have the kitchen but at different times. When Douglass presents this “sharing” plan to DeVito, complete with architect’s diagram, showing who gets what area, DeVito asks: “And this is a rational plan?” Douglass smirks and replies: “I have more square feet than she does.”

I won’t tell you the end, but this is what happens when things are not dealt with as we go along. After a while people are angry with one another over silly things, and don’t even remember what the original problem was.

Last time I wrote about not forgiving unless there is repentance, and I stand by that, but we must also learn to forgive in the sense of overlooking most problems without making hisses into fur ball fights. But how do we tell the difference? That is where wisdom comes to play. In my life or the lives of others, if something is not a blatant violation of the Ten Commandments, I usually overlook it.

Moreover, we must learn people. Some are naturally more forward than others and do not mean to offend. Others are more sensitive and get upset quickly. Some are transparent while others are opaque. Do not evaluate others by your standard, but by God’s standard in the Ten Commandments; moreover, we must overlook most things.

I’ve seen two people when they first meet, hiss, scratch, and mangle each other like two cats who are tied together by a small rope and thrown over a clothesline. Once again, I say don’t be angry because others sin differently and you don’t like it. For every fault we find in others, they can find something else in our lives, like not being patient and tolerant.

What is the best argument for the truth of Christianity? It is not so much the long, intellectual, sustained argument that dismantles evolution or attacks how people think, but the longer I live the more I’m convinced that it is love, both for one another in the body of Christ and for the world at large. Remember what our Lord said:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

Keep the peace by keeping your tails to yourself and avoiding rooms with rocking chairs. Keep short accounts; overlook 99.9% of things. Remember, just because someone else sins differently than you do is no reason to attack them in person or in private. If God has forgiven us trillions of dollars of our sins, what is it for us to forgive them a few cents?