Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.
Proverbs 10:12 (MES) Hatred starts fights,
but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Hatred - שִׂ֭נְאָה (sinah, nə·’āh) - Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 8135: Hating, hatred
stirs up - תְּעוֹרֵ֣ר (ur, tə·‘ō·w·rêr) - Verb - Piel - Imperfect - third person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5782: To rouse oneself, awake
dissension - מְדָנִ֑ים (medan, mə·ḏā·nîm) - Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 4090: A contest, quarrel
but love - אַהֲבָֽה׃ (ahabah, ’a·hă·ḇāh) - Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 160: Love (noun)
covers - תְּכַסֶּ֥ה (kasah, tə·ḵas·seh) - Verb - Piel - Imperfect - third person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3680: To plump, fill up hollows, to cover
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew English Lexicon adds cover, covering, to hide, as in a garment covers, clothing covers,
transgressions - פְּ֝שָׁעִ֗ים (pesha, pə·šā·‘îm) - Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 6588: Transgression
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew English Lexicon adds transgressions against individuals
Hatred rakes up again old feuds which have slumbered, but love covers up and refuses to look at any wrong done to it. - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
The reference is primarily to the blood feud, the existence of which led to the establishment of the cities of refuge. Hatred keeps alive the old feeling of revenge, and seeks opportunities of satisfying it; but love puts aside, forgets and forgives all offences against itself. - Pulpit Commentary
Hatred stirreth up strifes upon every slight occasion, by filling men with suspicions and surmises, whereby they imagine faults where there are none, and aggravate every small offence.
Love covereth all sins; either doth not severely observe, or doth willingly forget and forgive, the offences or injuries of others, and so preventeth contention and mischief. - Matthew Poole's Commentary
1 Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) 7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NLT) 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
A major literary device in Hebrew poetry is parallelism. Antithetical parallelism provides an antithesis, or contrast. We have this contrast in our verse today:
Hatred vs. Love
stirring up vs covering up
promoting conflict vs promoting peace
Wicked people love stirring up trouble and causing drama. They thrive on it! They can never forgive; they demand revenge; they are never satisfied. They have to be right and they have to have everyone around them on their side. They will keep bringing up the offense and trying to force everyone to agree that they've been wronged. But it's not enough. They not only want everyone to agree with them, but for everyone to hate the offensive person and be as eager to punish the person as they are. You have to become just as angry and dedicate your life to the cause of revenge like they do. Otherwise, they haven't accomplished their "job".
Let's say John Doe owned a bakery and was contracted to make a wedding cake for Jane Smith. She wanted it a certain way and he made a mess of the cake. The cake wasn't what Jane Smith wanted. She becomes so angry that his cake "ruined her special day" so she had to tell everyone about the problem. She goes to her fiance and her parents and unloads on them. Demanding that they be as angry as she is. Her anger, tears and bitterness don't run out with time, but grows. The more she talks about it, rehearses it, the angrier she becomes. She has to tell everyone about John Doe's bad cake and her job isn't done until everyone she tells is just as angry as she is. She wants to ruin his business just like her "ruined her special day". She expects everyone to boycott John Doe's bakery. So months later, she goes to a birthday party and her friend has a John Doe birthday cake. She is still angry and now is angry that her friend bought a John Doe cake after what he did to "ruin her special day". So she makes snide comments and has to tell the whole story over again to anybody at the birthday party who will listen to her. Still not satisfied that she's gotten her point across to the whole city (because John Doe is still in business), she goes to more extremes to ruin him. Her anger just keeps growing and she's out for revenge now. She gives bad reviews online to deliberately ruin his business. She writes a Letter to the Editor giving the whole story again. She gets her husband and friends to accompany her as they protest in front of the store. She calls the press to be there and she goes on camera telling about what a terrible cake John Doe made and how it "ruined her special day". John Doe has had it with Jane Smith and her vendetta, so he comes out and finally confronts her. This starts a new argument and now both are in heated exchanges and before you know it, everything is out of control.
Now let's look at the same scenario using the 2nd part of our verse, "love covers over all wrongs".
John Doe owned a bakery and was contracted to make a wedding cake for Jane Smith. She wanted it a certain way and he made a mess of the cake. The cake wasn't what Jane Smith wanted. She becomes so angry that his cake "ruined her special day". But, as a Christian, she knows the Bible says she should forgive. The big wedding has her pressured and anxious, she wanted everything to be perfect. But the cake is not. She goes to her fiance and her parents, tells them the story and cries. But, after some rest, and some time with God, she realizes that a bad cake is only one small part of the wedding and she gains perspective. Is it really going to "ruin her special day"? Not if she doesn't let it. As long as she's marrying the man she loves, all the details don't really matter. It's the love and the marriage that is to be celebrated, not the cake, flowers, dresses, etc. She decides to give it to the Lord and overlook the bad cake. There really is no reason to get so bent out of shape. It's only a cake. She wants her wedding to be a happy occasion, not a stressed out overwhelming occasion. She goes and talks to John Doe and expresses that the cake isn't what she expected but she does so with such grace that John Doe says he will try to make things right. On the day of the wedding, Jane marries the man she loves. Everyone is relaxed and celebrating when the cake comes out. John Doe has made the cake much better although still not exactly what she wanted. But she doesn't care because the purpose of the wedding has been accomplished - love, celebration and marriage. Six months later, she goes to her friend's birthday party. She notices the birthday cake is a John Doe cake. She remembers how her cake wasn't quite what she wanted but, six months later, she can't imagine why she got so bent out of shape about it She has totally forgotten about the cake since then. She looks around at her friends and remembers how they celebrated her wedding just a few months ago. Such happy memories from that time and the cake slides back out of her mind again.
In my simple example, you can see the contrast between Jane Smith stirring up hate and anger, out for revenge. And Jane Smith, using godly wisdom to gain a higher perspective and letting go of the anger. Which Jane Smith would you rather be? John Doe had made a mess of her cake. Maybe she had a reason for being angry with him. But godly wisdom helps us gain a better perspective and helps us let go and let God. Keeping all that anger stirred up leads to unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, obsessive desire for revenge. You can't let go. And you can't leave others alone unless they are just as angry and bent on revenge as you are.
"Hatred stirs up conflict", it keeps it going. It stokes the fires to burn ever hotter. They can't let it go. Like a dog worrying a bone. And, over time, all that anger is going to get a response. And then, one things leads to another like dominos falling. It gets harder and harder to forgive. In our example, when John Doe confronts Jane Smith's attempts to ruin him. Things get ugly on the street and he pulls out a gun and shoots Jane Smith and he goes to jail for murder. Now, her husband, who got pulled into the initial conflict, has to try and forgive John Doe of the bad cake, ruining his wedding day, AND murdering his wife. He becomes just as fixated on anger, revenge, "justice" as his wife was. She had stirred him up for six months over the silly wedding cake. John Doe's life is ruined. His family's lives are ruined and Jane's husband and parent's lives are ruined. Was a cake worth it?
Have you ever known someone who carries a grudge? They just won't let it go. They refuse to forgive. Right and justice are on their sides (so they think)! Everyone has to be on their side. They will keep it stirred up in their hearts and in their relationships with others. If someone, near and dear, doesn't agree with them, they will try their best to force them into agreeing with them and joining them in their cause. If it doesn't work, they reject them and refuse to have anything to do with them. If you refuse to become involved and complicit in their drama, you are dead to them.
Jealousy can get into this. I knew someone whose wife had lunch with a man at work. As far as I know it was totally innocent and it wasn't like she went anywhere with him. They just sat next to each other and talked while they ate their lunch before going back out on the floor. Her husband felt this was suspect and he couldn't forgive her. He kept stirring it up in his heart and trying to force her to believe she had done something terrible against him. His jealousy was seeing things that were probably not there and her denials just made him angrier. He started pulling other people into it to get them to agree with him. When they didn't, he just got angrier. He finally yelled, "I will never forgive her for this!" Thank God, this has a happy ending. I think he heard himself say that and realized how far he'd gotten over the edge. As I've said before, all of us have sin weaknesses that we struggle with and his is jealousy. The good thing is, he realized before it was too late that his jealousy, and unforgiveness, were getting out of control. He was able to get back into balance and save his marriage. Jealousy is still a struggle for him, but he struggles against it and hasn't just given up and embraced it. He realizes jealousy, and unforgiveness, can destroy your relationships and make you a very lonely person.
We've dwelled too long on hatred stirring up conflict and quarrels. Let's dwell now on love covering sins. There is a balance and I want to reach that balance.
When this verse says, "love covereth all sins", does it mean we cover up all sins and just love the person? I'm thinking not. For instance, if someone is a pedophile and has molested children, do we overlook it in love and just hide it? That's how some churches and church leadership have gotten into trouble. Catholic leadership who know children have been molested by priests and they didn't turn them into the police. They covered it up, tried church discipline and then moved the priest to another job. Did this work? No. I'm sure, in protestant churches, there have been "pastors" and "youth leaders" who have been found out. Church leadership might have tried to handle it by covering it up and quietly firing the pastor or leader, hoping the problem would go away and not affect their church. But that just passes a toxic situation on to unsuspecting people in the future.
We are to do all things in love. But a known pedophile who has proven to molest children, needs serious attention and tough love. Children also have to be protected from a wolf in sheep's clothing. Our children are our most vulnerable and they depend on parents and authority figures to protect them from someone like that. It shows love to be willing to protect children, even children who would be future victims. We cannot just shuffle it to someone else to have to handle later. This very real and sticky situation is probably more prevalent than it's ever been before due to the easy access to pornography and online relationships with others who train predators on how to hunt children. So it's a situation churches have to deal with now more frequently. I have no idea how a person can become so sick as to go after children and molest them. It is such a sick sin. But it is a sin just like my sins. We are all sinners and we all have sin weaknesses. All sin is equally destructive and calls for judgment from a righteous God. Thank God, we have Jesus Christ who forgives us, cleanses us and covers us with His righteousness. A pedophile can be forgiven. A pedophile needs to be handled with love and forgiveness but wisdom! God gives us godly wisdom to know that, although forgiven and saved, a pedophile needs careful handling because they are tempted to sin again just like you and I are tempted to sin again with our sins. Covering up a pedophile's crimes is no way to help them. It merely gives them freedom to keep chasing innocent children, magnifying their sin and hardening their hearts all the more. You've not done the pedophile a favor and you have exposed innocent children to harm. So, as a church leader, if you come up with this problem, you must have godly wisdom to walk carefully and stay in balance. Stay on your face before God and get His directions.
This extreme example should give us ideas on all other examples that we face daily. There is balance and God is in the balance. Let's look at an example in the Bible.
The Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian church about a sexual scandal. Let's look at it.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (NLT) 1 I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. 2 You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.
3 Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. 5 Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.
6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8 So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.
9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
Apostle Paul is admonishing them to reveal, confront and strongly discipline one of the church members by throwing them out of the church. Evidently the church had been practising a little too much love that covers sin. In fact, so much so, they had been proud of their "love" and their inclusivity. But Paul tells them very plainly it's not something to be proud of.
This reminds me of churches who are proudly embracing homosexuals. They brag about being inclusive and open to anyone. They begin gay ministries, ordain gay ministers, include gays in church leadership positions and as teachers. Churches who should be teaching the evils of sin and judgment, are teaching it's OK to be a sinner and live a lifestyle of rebellion against God. God has said homosexuality is a sin and a perversion of sex. But churches have decided they know better than God and that homosexuality is no longer a sin. They have replaced God with themselves and their opinions and have decided to welcome those who are practising homosexuals. Homosexuals, who are practising sin, are in great danger and these churches aren't helping by patting them on the back and saying it's OK. Pastors need to tell people NO sin is OK. All sin is dangerous, destructive and ends in judgment. It ruins and rots our lives while we are on earth and can end in everlasting judgement in torment in the Lake of Fire. It's not love that pats a sinner on the back and says, "Run along and play" with something so dangerous and destructive. Love is telling someone how dangerous and destructive it is and encourages them to stop.
Back to our story. The Corinthian church follows Apostle Paul's advice and they excommunicate the man who was sleeping with his stepmother. The strong discipline must have worked because Paul addresses it again in the second letter to the Corinthian church.
2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (NLT) 1 So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit. 2 For if I cause you grief, who will make me glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved. 3 That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. 4 I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.
5 I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. 6 Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7 Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 8 So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.
9 I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
Paul tells believers to distance ourselves from those who claim to be believers yet live immoral and destructive lives. We read that in the first letter to the Corinthian church. God instructs us not to participate in "unfruitful deeds of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11). On the other hand, Paul encourages believers to restore someone who is caught in sin (Galatians 6:1), and James tells us to bring a brother back who has wandered (James 5:19). Jesus says we’re to talk with those who have offended us, or feel we have offended them, so that our relationship can be healed (Matthew 18:15–17). There is balance.
People who are happily pursuing sin, or, are now so deeply entrenched in sin and are in bondage to it, need to wake up. They have been unwilling to acknowledge the destruction going on in their lives. They are in denial. They have not come to the point of taking responsibility for destructive behaviors, confessing their sins and getting help to walk in a new life of freedom. Christians, who refuse to shine the light on sin and refuse to lovingly, but firmly, confront the sinner, are colluding with them in their sin. We are helping them to destroy themselves and everything good in their lives. We are, in essence, "loving them to death"!
But we are not to condemn sinners. We are not to hate or shame them. We are to approach them with love and mercy but not to accept their excuses, justifications, denials, rationalizations, lies or assurances. If we really want to do the right thing, and God certainly wants us to do the right thing, then we will do the right thing. So be sure your own heart is submitted to God and you are walking in love. But don't stand down and compromise either.
We can forgive others and Jesus calls us to forgive others. This shows love. It means not to rehearse the offense over and over again in your head or in your conversations. It means not to wish evil on anyone but to let God handle the other person. You release it to God and you go on. You may have to give up all thoughts of what's fair for you; your idea of justice; your "rights"; your desire for revenge. You let it go and let God be responsible for all that. This kind of forgiveness does not shut it's eyes to those habitual sinners who are practising and embracing their sin. God has told us in His Word what is sin and what is not. I'm not judging someone when I say homosexuality is wrong. God already told us it was wrong. God told us in His Word that gossip is sin and stealing is sin too. I believe what the Bible says and sin is sin. But, I must also recognize my sin is just like their sin. So I have to have a heart of humility, mercy and understanding towards other sinners because I'm just like them. Forgiveness doesn't mean we overlook the sin and walk in denial. It means we recognize the sin for what it really is and we forgive someone because we are sinners too.
Godly wisdom, given to us from God, means we can walk the balance of love, mercy and forgiveness along with love, discipline and reality. I can love and forgive a person but I don't have to agree with their sin and I can confront and use proper discipline. It may mean getting out of relationship with a toxic person who is still refusing to face their sin and repent. This could be temporary or long term, depending on the sinner. It may mean getting law enforcement involved. It may mean rehab. It may mean helping them get back on their feet. It may mean excluding them from fellowship in the church. God can give you the wisdom to know what is best to do.
There are families who face this every day! They have family members whom they love, but who are practising sins that are destroying their lives. Whether it's drugs, alcohol abuse, having babies out of wedlock, bullies, thieves, drug dealers.... spouses, parents and adult children are stuck with trying to walk this balance every day. How much is "love covers sins" and forgiving and how much is "enough is enough" and using discipline. Do you forgive and extend mercy or are you just letting them get away with it? Are you aiding and abetting or loving them? Are you becoming co-dependent or are you depending on God? Are you putting your foot down and confronting them or are you freeing them from responsibility so they can continue in their self destructive ways?
I cannot tell you because each of you are in your own situations. Only God knows where the balance is in your situation. God knows you and your loved one and He knows what is right, when it's right and how to do what's right. This means you have to be on your face with Him on a daily basis. Praying for your loved one, praying for godly wisdom, praying for help for yourself, your family and your loved one. Stay in the Word and pray. Talking to Christian counselors can help. It's very important for you to stay balanced yourself or you can go crazy. Do not accept blame for things you didn't do, think or feel. But do not be in denial about your own sins either.
Realize we are going to be struggling with our own weaknesses in the middle of their drama. Let's say our weakness is anger and their weakness is alcoholism. You can see how one would feed the other. So keep up the struggle against your own sins.
Love covers sins by forgiving. By being merciful. By wanting the best for the other person. By giving up our own desires and need for being right. Love doesn't gossip about sinners. Love doesn't tear down a sinner to other people by gossiping or slandering. Love doesn't rehearse offenses by obsessively talking about it to everyone or running it over and over again in our minds. Love releases offenses to God. Love is not in denial, nor does it endanger others by not confronting the sinner. Love is a peacemaker but also a firm, but kind, confronter.
- Have you ever seen someone stirring up trouble? Whether it's a personal example or one you've seen in the news, journal about it. It's scary.
- Have you ever seen someone cover an offense with love? Whether it's a personal example or one you've seen in the news, journal about it. It's inspiring.
- I'm sure you've faced your own situations where you aren't sure where the balance is. Write it out and then take it to God in prayer.
- Do you need to forgive someone? Ask God to help you forgive and release it to Him. It's a supernatural thing, and it may take some time, but if you want to obey God and forgive, He will help you.
- As you were reading this, did God point out some things that you need to address in yourself? Have you carried a grudge? Have you been self righteous and demanded what you thought was right, refusing to let God handle it? Have you ever rehearsed an offense over and over again? Have you become co-dependent to someone else's sin? Have you felt God tell you to stop enabling but you kept on? Have you been too harsh because of anger issues? Have confrontations turned into shouting matches and curses instead of the loving firmness you meant to exhibit? Have you refused to accept someone who has changed because of pride or self righteousness? Whatever God has shown you, now is the time to repent and ask His forgiveness. He loves you and is lovingly showing you an area that He needs to cleanse and heal.
- Have you ever been the recipient of God's forgiveness, mercy and love? Then you know how freeing and joyous it is! Praise Him for it! If not, you are missing out on what Jesus can do for you.
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