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Hatred Stirs Up Conflict, But Love Covers Over All Wrongs

July 22, 2020 by

butterfly
Artwork by Laura Robertshaw

We are living in trying times. It’s easy to lose courage, to become cynical, to give up on hope for the future – but don’t do that. And if you’re not struggling because God blessed you with an optimistic spirit, that’s great – I’m sure you’re trying to figure out how to encourage so many others who are, whether they are friends, family, students, coworkers, or casual acquaintances.

There is so much to worry or get stressed about – a resurgence of COVID; another shutdown of life as we know it; sickness, either your own or in your loved ones; loss of a job; uncertainty about school, work, or financial security; putting food on the table; paying the bills; not knowing how you will care for your children or your elderly parents; frustration about politics, government, racism, violence, strife, and division in our country as well as between other countries.

What we need is an infusion of hope! Real hope, not false assurances. Hope that all this division, strife, and worry about the future has a solution, an answer.

Well, the gospel is full of hope! All of it is real and of course, the best and truest hope is having Jesus in your heart and life.

Today I want to talk about two short passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. They point towards an amazing solution to all these problems.

In Proverbs 10:12 it says,Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”

In the first letter of Peter 4:8, the apostle writes, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

What does that mean? It is clear that hatred stirs up conflict, and that strife, arguing, and fighting will lead to violence and war. But what is this about love covering up sins?

There are three different words for “sin” in the Bible. One of the words has to do with rebellion against God. Another has to do with breaking God’s laws. The third one has to do with person-to-person wrongs, the things we do to hurt each other or make each other angry: hateful words, backstabbing, betrayal, mistrust, and the like.

In both these passages, as scholars have pointed out, the word “sin” in Hebrew and Greek refers to the sin of hurting others, not necessarily sin that contradicts God’s laws, like murder, idolatry, adultery, or blasphemy. I’m not saying that one category is better or worse than the other. They’re both sin, after all.

I think Peter is saying that when we commit sins against each other – when we hurt or mistreat each other, when we hold grudges and lose trust in each other, when we tear each other down at home, work, or school; on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube; on our streets and in our parks – the best way to set it right is to show love, to be generous, to help a neighbor or even a stranger, to give time, to say kind words.

We can change. We can undo our sins or prejudice, our hurtful words or actions against each other by showing deeds of love, by forgiving each other, by listening to the pain of someone who has been wronged, by standing up for truth, and by assuming the best in each other. We need to build up relationships with each other. This is what is missing: friendship, care, attention to the spirit and wellbeing of our neighbors, and even strangers we meet.

Maybe we can even “cover” for other people’s sins of hate and anger by loving them anyways, by forgiving them. Are we strong enough to do that? Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he instructed us to “turn the other cheek” when someone strikes us.

Here is the context of the passage from Peter that I mentioned earlier: The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:7-11).

Yes, love is the solution, forgiveness is the solution. It is strength. Love will renew our broken world, build up new and strong relationships between people and groups of people. It will dispel the hurt, injustice, misunderstanding, hatred, and violence that is tearing us apart.

In the name of Jesus, love others and you will be happy and blessed!

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