Sunday October 20, 2019
The purpose of the book of Proverbs can be found in its first chapter, its first three verses: to know wisdom, to discern sayings for understanding, and to receive instruction for wise behavior (Pro.1:1-3). Proverbs are sayings talking about everyday life, and they serve as practical guidelines for successful living. Here, that successful life depends on our handling of wrongs done to us. It all begins with a cover-up.
It is inevitable that we are going to be hurt by someone close to us. It could be a friend, a family member, or a brother or sister at church. Offense will come at us but we do not have to be offended and hurt. There is another response…it’s called the cover-up. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of offended)
Back in the book of Genesis, we are told of such a cover-up. Noah had become drunk and was found naked by his son Ham (the father of Canaan…this will become important later). Ham mocked him and sought to expose his shame to his brothers. But Shem and Japheth, Noah’s other sons, came in, saw their father’s nakedness and shame and covered him with a blanket. They were blessed; Ham and his descendants were cursed.
Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.” And he said; “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.” (Gen.9:25-27)
That is our duty. Proverbs 10:12 instructs us to cover the transgression that was done to us and demonstrates the power of such an act of love. Cover means to “conceal and to hide.” That is what true love does. It not only covers what we would call “little breaches,” but also those greater hurts and offenses of every kind. We are further reminded that if we conceal a transgression we are literally seeking the purest kind of love.
He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. (Pro.17:9)
The word seeks means, “to search in worship and prayer.” When we are hurt our flesh wants to lash out, hurt back, or punish the one who hurt us. But covering that transgression is a spiritual response that requires the spiritual empowering of the Holy Spirit. When we choose to worship God over warring with others, that act of worship becomes the very power we need to overcome the offense! And when we pray before we punish, the Spirit comforts us and soothes the wounded heart.
Once we cover the sin, there is yet one more step in the concealing process…forgetting. Paul, who had more reason to be embittered by the wrongs done to him, exemplifies the letting go of offenses.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor.13:5 NIV)
Instead of being resentful, real love is forgiving…and forgetful. When someone wrongs us and we constantly replay it over in our minds or speak about it to others, we are keeping a record of those wrongs. But the person filled with the forgiving and forgetting love of God never seeks to remember…he seeks to forget.
One further instruction is given to us in 1 Peter. We must be fervent in covering wrongs.
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet.4:8)
To be fervent is to love “without ceasing.” There is never a limit to a covering love…there can never too much. We do not cover sin from God, we cover it for Him. His love is being poured out through us on behalf of another. That love pours living water, not oil, on the flame of offense and mends the breach of love.