I’m amazed by the way things happen, better yet–by the ways in which God puts things together, so as to test and teach us. Here’s an example. I just started an article that began like this—‘I’m still waiting for someone to write a book entitled ‘The Art Of Ignoring’. That’s something we all need to learn.” My rough draft went on to say, “Have you ever thought about the misery we bring upon ourselves all because we simply refuse to ignore the bad behavior of others? For some reason we feel we must react to it rather than just let it go”.
Well you can probably guess what happened next. Before I even finished the article someone put me to the test. It was a simple thing that probably went unnoticed by everyone but me, but it “ate my lunch”, as the old saying goes. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. I bet you know exactly where I’m coming from. Someone does (or doesn’t do) something that irritates you to no end and you can’t (won’t) forget it. You know it’s silly to let such a little thing ruin your day, but you do it anyway. Take this as a confession— I don’t always do what I’m telling you to do. Guess you could say I’m writing this for myself as much as anybody—I’ve found that to be good therapy! Now that I’ve got a better grip on myself let me try to finish what I started before I unravel again.
As I said, we make ourselves miserable, and often do some really stupid things, because we refuse to ignore the bad things other people do. And when you consider human nature and the rotten condition of the world there’s always something that gets under your skin, something that perturbs you, puts you in a foul mood and robs you of your joy. So, what do we do?
To start with, it would help if we had less pride and more pity— pity for the rude and crude people around us. After all, it’s better to be the victim than the perpetrator! We ought to feel sorry for those who hurt others, because in the long run they are hurting themselves. Our goal should be to help, not hurt them more as though that would make them better. Think about it. Our anger isn’t going to change the other person for the better. So what do we hope to gain by blowing our stack or wallowing in self pity? When we respond in kind to those who are unkind we become their kind. We become just like those who offend us. When we put our anger on display we make matters worse– like pouring gas on a fire. Those who make a mountain out of a mole hill end up creating a rough road for themselves. Don’t do it.
Nealy every pastor has made the mistake of addressing things that offended him from the pulpit. Then later he realizes that it would have been much better had he just ignored the issue, but it’s too late. Every married couple has had a big argument over something that started over a little thing that should have been ignored. And the list goes on. As long as we entertain the prideful attitude that says, “I’m not going to let others walk all over me, take advantage of me, embarrass me, ignore me, etc” we’ll always be bent out of shape about something. We would be much happier and more helpful if we learned to simply ignore them. By “ignore them” I don’t mean to ignore the person so as to hold them at arms length as though we want nothing to do with them, I mean ignore the issue that offended us. As Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 6:7 we ought to “take wrong” and even allow others to defraud us. Rom. 14:19 says, “ Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” That’s not just good advice, it’s a command. To ignore this command makes us just as guilty as the person who offend us. How then do we have any right to protest? Think about it!