Love Covers (Proverbs 17:9, 22)
9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. 22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. —Proverbs 17:9, 22
Some cover-ups are lies and some cover-ups are love. It depends on who’s doing the covering.
When President Richard Nixon and his aides attempted to cover up the offense of the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Complex by Republican Party operatives, they were not seeking love. Why? Because they, the offending party (the Republicans), were trying to cover their own offense against the offended party (the Democrats).
When a guilty party “covers” his own offense, it is a lie. The only love involved is prideful, self-love. But when justice and ethics don’t demand that a matter be “repeated,” and the innocent, (the offended party or an observing party) “covers” the offense of an offender in order to preserve the friendship, it is love—the kind of love that “bears all things”(1 Corinthians 13:7).
Every day we hear stories of offenders who try to cover their own offenses with lies. And every day we hear (sometimes from our own lips) people “repeating a matter.” We call it gossip and it fuels whole media industries. All around us are shattered relationships that exploded in the “repeating.”
But how many examples can you think of where a friendship was preserved because someone did not repeat—gossip about—an offense? Not many, I’ll wager.
Why is this? Is it so rare?
While it’s true that covering a matter is rarer in our sinful world than repeating a matter, this is not the reason we know so few examples of “covering.” The reason is that by definition “covering” hides others’ offenses from our view, and therefore even hides the “covering” from our view. We don’t know about the offenses or their covering because loving people haven’t talked about them.
The kind of love that “covers a multitude of sins” is a costly love (1 Peter 4:8). It is a humble love that “looks not only to our own interests but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
This love, even when it is exercised by unbelievers, it is a gospel love because it is a reflection of the way God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16) to cover our sins (Romans 4:7). God, the offended party, justly covered the penalty of our offenses on the cross so that he could righteously “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19) and “remember [our] sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
And to us, Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Seek to love like Jesus today. Cover an offense.