By Mike Willis
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (Prov 10:12).
This proverb contrasts the actions of love and hatred. These serve as checks to us to see how we feel toward others. I don’t know any home that could not benefit from less strife, so maybe this proverb teaches us something about the home that each of us needs to learn.
Hatred Stirs Up Strife
Kell and Delitzsch commented on this verse: “Hatred of one’s neighbor, which is of itself an evil, has further this bad effect, that it calls forth hatred, and thus stirreth up strife, feuds, factions, for it incites man against man” (217). Think of the things that hatred does that stir strife:
1. Hatred stirs up strife with caustic, biting speech. “There is that speaketh like the piercing of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health” (Prov. 12:18). A person’s speech reveals a malignant spirit when it is constantly “cutting down” others.
2. Hatred stirs up strife by angry words. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
3. Hatred stirs up strife by remembering former transgressions. One can create havoc by constantly throwing in the face of another those wrongs which he has committed, repented of, and asked forgiveness. We expect God to forgive our sins and “remember them against us no more” (Heb. 8:12). Can we do any less to those who have sinned against us? We want God to forgive us, and he has promised to forgive us just as we forgive those who sin against us. If we do not want God to “throw our sins in our face,” we must not do that to others.
4. Hatred stirs up strife by arguing. No one is right all of the time. We all admit this is true, but how slow we are to listen to someone tell us our faults and how quick we are to argue about them. When someone comes to me with a complaint, my first obligation is to listen patiently. My second obligation is to see if it is true. If it is true, my third obligation is to correct it. This cycle frequently is interrupted by arguing. When some-one criticizes me, I fight back by criticizing him. This sets off a vicious cycle of conflict that can last for hours. The next time someone criticizes you, listen to him before you begin defending yourself.
Love Covers Sin
There are a number of ways that love covers sin. Let’s think about how this can happen.
1. Love covers sins by passing over offenses. Sometimes a person shows love by ignoring those minor offenses committed against him. There are some people who can say things about me that I do not get offended by because I know how much they love me. They are only trying to help me. There are people whom I love so much that I pass over little things that they might do that hurt me. I can do that because I love them and they love me. Whatever hurt they caused me was not intended.
2. Love covers sins by forgiving it. When a brother apologizes for what he has done that is wrong, loves reciprocates by forgiving him. He does not hold a grudge or seek revenge. He forgives the offense.
3. Love covers sins by recognizing the mitigating circumstances. Sometimes the one who has offended us is experiencing some terrible things in his life. He is “not him-self’ that is, this is not his usual conduct toward me. Love enables me to take those mitigating circumstances into consideration and overlook his offense.
4. Loves covers sins by confronting the sinner and calling him to repentance. Frequently, we only see how love passes over sin. However, when the two parts of this proverb are contrasted, “covering sin” is the opposite of “stirring up strife.” By calling the sinner to account for his ways, loves leads him to obtain God’s forgiveness and that of those sinned against.
No doubt that are many other ways that love is able to cover sin and not exacerbate offenses by stirring up strife. By calling these to mind, perhaps we can work toward making our homes more peaceable.
The Pulpit Commentary said, “Hatred keeps alive the old feeling of revenge, and seeks opportunities of satisfying it; but loves puts aside, forgets and forgives all offences against itself”
Guardian of Truth XL: 11 p. 2
June 6, 1996