“One man beareth hatred against another, and doth he seek pardon from the Lord? He sheweth no mercy to a man, which is like himself: and doth he ask forgiveness of his own sins? If he that is but flesh nourish hatred, who will intreat for pardon of his sins? Remember thy end, and let enmity cease; [remember] corruption and death, and abide in the commandments. Remember the commandments, and bear no malice to thy neighbour: [remember] the covenant of the Highest, and wink at ignorance.“ (Reference: Sirach 28:3-7 )
The book of Sirach can be difficult to understand, especially if it is an older translation. But if I had used a new version, that wonderful “wink at ignorance” would be lost. Instead I am using a paraphrase of sorts; Menno Simons wrote in “Exhortation to a Church in Prussia” a very understandable paraphrase of the passage. He wrote,
“He who seeks vengeance, says Sirach, will experience vengeance at the hand of the Lord, and his sins will surely be unremitted. Forgive your fellow his fault, for in that way your sins will also be forgiven when you pray. The man who is angry with a man, how dare he ask forgiveness with God? He who is like unto a man and shows no mercy, how dare he pray for forgiveness of sins? If he that is flesh nourishes and carries anger, who will forgive his sin and be gracious unto him? Ponder your end, and cease from wrath. Sirach 28.
Dearest brethren, do not think that I have written this admonition with a certain brother’s person in mind; not at all. But I have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears the heathen impurity of many a heart; the wicked pride and slander, yes, the cruel and bitter fruits that came forth out of the quarrel.”
Simons does not make mention of the “wink at ignorance” but then I would not expect a “serious” theologian such as Simons to use such jest. But I would beloved. I would.
Wink at ignorance. Of course, when one is truly sinful, then there needs to be confession and forgiveness. We must go to our brother or sister in love, telling them what we have seen. And give counsel and encouragement so that harmony might be restored. But never, beloved, never confront in wrath or anger, or use wrath or anger against anyone. For that is sin also.
If the offense is not out of a truly sinful or corrupted nature however, there is no need to confront the brother or sister. Instead understand that all of us may at one time or another (or may often) not respond or act in a way that is pleasing to others. Instead of taking offense, let it go. “Wink” at their lack of culture and pose – let it go. “Wink” at their rough ways – let it go. “Wink” at their faults and failings – let it go. If we do not wish to be judged, let us not judge.
May our Lord God who knows the true nature of each person’s heart teach you to “wink.” Selah!