The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

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How Love Covers Sin

Harold Hancock

Both the writer of Proverbs and Peter say it "love covers sins" (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Peter 4:8). We must,therefore, seek to cover sins with love. But what does "love covers sins" mean, and how do we obey this Divine instruction?

Neither the writer of Proverbs nor Peter meant that love ignores sin. God who is love 1 John 4:8) does not ignore sin. Neither can we! God sent His son to die on the cross for our sins; His word condemns sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus taught that if one has sinned against us, we are to go to that person and tell him his fault (Matthew 18:15), and Paul taught that if we see our brother overtaken in a fault, we are to restore him, not ignore him (Galatians 6:1,2). How could one think that love, that which seeks oneís best interest, can ignore sin, that which destroys souls eternally?

The meaning of the proverbs can best be determined by observing the entire verses. "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins" (Proverbs 10:12). "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends" (Prov 17:9). The contrasts stated in the verses suggest that love does not broadcast the sins of another. Love does not delight in causing strife or in making another look bad needlessly.

Peterís admonition, "And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins" (1 Pet 4:8), most certainly demands that we not gossip about the sins of others. There may be, however, more to Peterís command. James urged, "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." (James 5:19,20). When James speaks of one who "shall hide a multitude of sins," he seems to be suggesting that one has caused another to be forgiven of his sins through conversion. Perhaps, Peter is not only admonishing us not to broadcast anotherís faults, but also to try to convert those in sin and to forgive those who sin and are converted.

How do we cover sins with love? We do not needlessly repeat the sins of others (Matt 18:15-17), and we forgive those who trespass against us.