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How can love possibly cover sin?

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 11:16 a.m. CDT

Explain the proverb, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”

“While I was eating lunch with my friends, one of them told another he was fat,” says Connor, age 7. “The word ‘fat’ upset my friend and me.”

Did you say “fat”? That’s a fightin’ word for many people. Call me ugly; call me crazy, but don’t call me fat.

Providentially, Connor remembered: “God teaches us to forgive one another. My friend and I should forgive our friend, even though he was mean and hateful.”

Christians should forgive because they’ve been forgiven in Christ. Can we withhold forgiveness when we have offended a holy God who has forgiven us of much greater offenses?

“Hatred makes people mean,” says Patrick, 8. “Mean people look for bad things in others. Love makes people look for good in others.”

Whatever is in our hearts functions as radar. Those who harbor hatred are like the guy who had Limburger cheese on his mustache. Everything stinks.

If we hate, we’ll find reasons to justify our hatred. Our capacity for self-delusion knows no end.

Love oils relationships. Forgiveness doesn’t keep score of offenses. Some people have total recall for the past sins of others but a blank spot for remembering their own sins.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he cried out, “It is finished!” When you forgive, remember Jesus’ words on the cross. Let that be the end of it.

Also, remember Lewis, 7: “Hate causes bad things. Love can heal hurt feelings and bring happiness.”

Some pain can’t be released by willpower. It’s too deep. The Bible advocates replacement, says Lance, 7: “When love comes into your heart, it gets the sin out.”

The Lord wants us to go further than forgiveness, says Carson, 9: “Everyone should love their enemies. We should also pray for them and encourage them. Sometimes, people are hard to forgive.”

This kind of love is radical. Before Jesus taught and demonstrated this kind of love, who ever heard of loving your enemies?

Hatred has a power and energy that galvanizes entire peoples and countries. There are places where hatred has existed for centuries. Jesus said murder begins in the heart.

The Apostle John wrote: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now” (I John 2:9).

In his Bible commentary on I John, Zane Hodges wrote: “If the Bible taught that feelings of hatred were a sure sign of an unsaved condition, then virtually no one in the whole church would be saved! But the Bible does not teach this.”

The apostle John acknowledges the sad reality but wants the Christian who hates to be quite sure that his moral condition is deplorable. A claim by such a person that “he is in the light” is falsified by his hatred of his fellow Christians. The claim and the hatred taken together simply prove that the hostile Christian “is in darkness until now.”

This column started with someone being called “fat.” In the language of the original King James Version, Proverbs 11:25 reads, “The liberal soul shall be made fat.” Be liberal or generous in love, and you’ll find your soul fat, or rich, beyond calculation.

Think about this: When Christians forgive one another and love their enemies, the gospel becomes incarnate. Even the worst haters are defenseless in the face of love.

Memorize this truth: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).

Ask this question: Do you forgive as God has forgiven you through Jesus Christ?

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