The complete passage (found in Proverbs 19:11) reads: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.”
In what way is it a beauty (or, a “beautiful thing”)?
Being criticized, experiencing others’ cruel fault-finding, feeling rejected instead of accepted—we’ve all experienced it. When it happens to us, it is discouraging, to say the least. If it happens enough to sour us, we can become jaded and satirical. Soon, we begin to treat others the way we’ve become accustomed to being treated.
But what if, like a breath of fresh air, someone actually doesn’t “jump all over our case” and instead shows compassion and consideration? It is so very refreshing, that we may actually be shocked and apprehensive. The person that showed you compassion learned what that “beauty” was. It is a beauty not only of godly love but of wisdom. Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22 helps us to see what wisdom that person has gained when it says: “Also, do not give your heart to all the words that people may speak, that you may not hear your servant calling down evil upon you. For your own heart well knows even many times that you, even you, have called down evil upon others.”
Yes, that person acknowledges his own imperfection and knows that “with what measure you are measuring out, it will be measured out to you in return.” (Matthew 7:1,2). In other words, even if no other human treats him or her with dignity, he is determined to rise above the self-centered cruelty of this world knowing that in the finality of things, it is God that will amply reward his kindness in like manner. That alone is ample reason not to “return evil for evil” to anyone. (Romans 12:17)