This devotional series examines a verse or two from each chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. ~Proverbs 10:12
You probably heard the quote: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” It’s from the Bible—1 Peter 4:8, to be exact. But the idea originated in the Old Testament, as in the proverb above. Even then, the idea reaches back further.
After they fell into sin, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and shame settled on them. When they heard the sound of God walking through the garden, they sought to hide and cover themselves. In response to their pathetic attempt, God covered them with animal skins after he had rebuked their sinfulness.
God is love and this is what love does.
But what does it mean that “love covers all offenses”? Certainly, this does not mean that we ignore them and sweep them under the rug. When God ultimately covered our sins, he did so via the bloody sacrifice of Jesus who took God’s wrath for us on the cross. The goodness, love, and righteousness of God could not simply ignore sin and turn the other way.
Sin had to be paid for, but love provided a means for this payment. God forgave and wiped our sin clean by giving us the willing sacrifice of Jesus. This is why experiencing forgiveness requires our faith in Jesus. He is the only way.
For us, then, to love others means that we seek to forgive their sins. People wrong us and fail us practically every day, just as we wrong and fail others. A hard heart that has not itself experienced the grace of forgiveness will hold onto bitterness and hold the wrong over the other’s head no matter how much they plead for our forgiveness.
A heart softened by God’s love and knowing his grace, however, will extend forgiveness to others. If we have experienced God’s love in Christ, then we know that the sins someone else commits against us have either been paid for by Jesus just as ours have been, or the person has rejected God’s love and will still face his wrath on sin in the end.
In love, we trust God as the prefect judge and therefore are willing to forgive. We let go of our right to be bitter and we let go of our desire to hold a person’s sin over their head. That doesn’t mean automatic healing in a relationship or an immediate restoration of trust. No, those things can take time. But forgiveness is a necessary first step.