One of the most often misused verses of the Bible is Proverbs 10:12 and its counterpart in the New Testament 1 Peter 4:8: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Too often the one who has sinned wants to use this verse and apply it to others to avoid the consequences of his sin. In others words, the thinking is “if you love me, you won’t be offended by my sin and you will overlook it.” The sinner wants easy forgiveness.
But that is not the intent of the sin at all as a careful look at several verses will show. The Bible is directing this verse not for the one who sins to find an easy path but for the one who is sinned against. This helps that person to know the heart of our loving Heavenly Father who actively forgives our sins and covers them with the blood of Christ. This is hard forgiveness that requires sacrifice of the forgiver.
James 5:20 gives us very helpful clarity: “let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As those who have been forgiven by God we are free to forgive and to help guide the sinner back to the Lord, rather than feeling a need to gain revenge for the sin. Our love will cover their sin.
So who has sinned against you? But you may say, “You don’t know. It was too grievous to forgive.” But the Scripture says “love covers all offenses.” You have been forgiven of sin against a holy and righteous God. Nothing anyone else does to you remotely compares with that (see Matthew 18:21-35). You can forgive with Christ’s help.
Prayer: Father, please give me a forgiving heart. Help me to know what is the joy of forgiveness for others. Help me to show your love to all.