Proverbs 10:12 (ESV) – But Love Covers
12 Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
Today, one doesn’t have to look far to find strife (angry contention, opposition, enmity, struggle, quarrel, agitation) all around them. In our social media driven 24 hour news cycle, strife is “soup du jour;” Strife is “what’s for dinner.” I use these food references for a very specific reason. It seems, even for most of us living for Jesus and under His grace, our flesh desires to consume strife by the pound. Strife in our homes, strife at our jobs, strife between the sexes, strife betwixt differing races, strife between denominations and among congregations, it just goes on and on and on. And to make things exponentially worse, promoting our strife is only a “Like,” “Share,” “#Hashtag,” or “Re-tweet” away. The causes, of which there are many, for all the strife are not important. What we know from verse 12 above is that the many causes are “stirred up” and strife ensues… But love covers all.
That is the good news. So we will spend our remaining time focusing on love, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8;16) and we should always be focusing on Him. The impact of the truth in verse 12 that “love covers all offenses (sins)” is profound. There is a duality hidden in the statement; First, God (love) covers all His sons and daughters who have called on the name of Jesus and have repented of their sins, regardless of the offense. This “covering” is between the Father (God) and his children and is well understood from 1 John 1:7:
7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
A second application of the “covering” exists between men (humans) and may be less understood. The mystery appears to be that true love covers a multitude of OTHER PEOPLE’S sins as we can see from 1 Peter 4:8:
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
The implication is that when love is abundant, offenses are frequently overlooked, forgiven, and forgotten. In addition, true love makes an active effort to RECOVER THE SINNER (offender). James 5:19-20 demonstrates this for us:
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Here we see the duality of verse 12 working in singularity – one wanders from the truth (sins) and another (potentially the offended) seeks to bring forgiveness (cover) to the wanderer (sinner), bringing them back to the truth and thus saving their soul from eternal death by Gods forgiveness.
This second application correlates perfectly with how God covers us in grace once we have repented of our sins. Divine love covers the multitude of sins by God forgiving and forgetting the sin by the sacrifice of his Son on the cross, and seeking to recover the sinner by the Holy Spirit.
As followers of Christ we should be loving one another in order to promote peace rather than strife. We must seek to “stir up” love and harmony within our family, church, community and society at large. This DOES NOT require us to forsake truth. Quite the contrary, giving another “un-truth” is in no way loving. In fact, it is wicked, and will often produce further strife… But Love Covers All.
“The love which is commended in Scripture is an ardent love, keen, critical, sagacious, far-sighted, not imagining that things are destroyed because they are concealed; it is the love of God which at all costs must expel sin from the universe, and set up the kingdom of God among men.” – Joseph Parker, D.D.