9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (NIV)
When someone offends us, our response will protect the relationship or create separation.
If our desire is to prove that we are right or that they are wrong, we will draw attention to whatever it is we believe they did wrong. We will throw the pain they inflicted back at them. We hope by this they will open their eyes to what they have done and not do it again. But this approach creates separation.
If our desire is to protect and nurture the relationship, it is wise to cover their offense. The language refers to the Atonement Cover of the Ark of the Covenant. Essentially, this was a lid to the box that held the Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod. These represented the disobedience, distrust, and rebellion of the people.
But once a year, the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant with the blood of a perfect lamb and sprinkle blood to cover the lid with blood. The blood represented the blood Christ would shed on the cross covering our sins. Rather than retaliating and throwing the pain of our offense back at us, He kept loving us. This is what our passage today refers to.
To cover someone’s sin is to let the pain of the offense stay with us while we keep loving them.
God did not retaliate against us for our offensive behavior. Instead, He let the pain of the sin remain with Him as He continued to love. We are drawn to Him because of this love. We wonder how a holy God could love a sinner like us to cover our offense. Not everyone is drawn to Him, but without covering our sins with His love, none would be drawn to Him.
If we desire to protect the relationship more than prove we are right or that they are wrong, we will cover their sin with love. We let the pain of the offense remain with us as we keep loving. And like us to Christ, their hearts may be drawn to ours. In this way, we foster love and work to protect the relationship.
Prayer: Lord, help me bring my pain and offense to You for healing so I might cover it over with love for the sake of the one who hurt me. Amen.