He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. ~Proverbs 17:9
How’s that rumor mill going? Ever seen one? Been part of one? If you are anything like me, you have probably been both. Been on the outside looking in, inside looking out, caught up in the spinning, or trying to hold it back! Whatever the situation, it might have started out fine, but probably took a turn for the worse. And forget about the aftermath! You know when the person who is the subject of the mill finds out about it! Ooo…yeah…not good! That shouldn’t come as a surprise. God told us about it in Proverbs and said it is not the right way to operate!
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus, the Christ, provided a living example of what it meant to love one another. He spoke it many times and did it more than that culminating in the showing of the love of the Father as He gave Himself to die on the cross and receive the wrath of the Father as the punishment for the sins of mankind though He, Himself, did no sin. Proverbs 17:9 exemplifies that love in a short concise manner; it is a wonderful little snippet of truth.
Remember this verse is in Proverbs, so it is poetic in structure and thus must be understood in that manner. The structure is quite simple; two short lines of synthetic parallelism, if you want to know the terms. All that means is the two sections of each line have a “when this, then that” type of relationship; they are conditional to an extent, since it is part of the Word of God, the result of the condition is always true. For example: “he that covereth a transgression” always “seeketh love.” That is the way God designed it. The second line is just the same: “he that repeateth a matter” always “separateth very friends.” Additionally, since the result is always true, the reverse is also truth. To love someone, cover their sins; to separate from someone, repeat their sins to another.
For those of us who believe in and have received what God has done for us and given us, He is the best example I can think of for this couplet. He covers our offenses (sins) with the blood of His Son because He loves us. He does not go around telling all His angels about our sins! He covers those sins, effectively washing them away, with the blood of Christ. The rumor mill is stopped before it is even started! Why? Because He seeks to love us! He will not speak of our sins to another, not that He is not able to do so, but because He always does what is right and by definition of Who He Is, covering the sin is right. Therefore, by His very character, He is a God of reconciliation because He desires to love us, draw us close, not separate from us.
Practically now, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do we start rumors concerning our own faults, sins, offenses? No, we don’t! Why? Because we seek to love ourselves! Talking about our sins to others in the rumor mill is not loving of self, it causes the opposite, a separation, a distancing. Then why would we do it to others?! Part of loving others is allowing those offenses, sins, to be covered and not repeated for others to hear. The whole “I only repeat for prayer requests.” excuse is just as bad. There is a time and place to repeat that which is necessary to request others to pray for the situation. It is a matter of wisdom to determine when and how much information is needed. My rule of thumb (that I try to stick to) is the following: would I be telling this person, at this time, this information about myself? If I can honestly say yes, then I would proceed, if not, it stops or the details are dropped. You know, application of the Golden Rule! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! The source of that rule is recorded in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12.
God covers the sins of His people with the blood of His Son in order to show us His love for us because that is Who He Is! We are commanded multiple times throughout Scripture to love each other because it is what God would have us do; stopping the rumor mill before it starts is one of the myriad aspects of loving others!
Brethren, let us love one another: for love is of God!