Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6, 7
Love always protects.
The verb means to cover, to pass over in silence, to keep confidential. When we want to stop discussion of something we may say that we want to “put a lid on it.” Love throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person. Love finds a way to shelter the wrongdoer from exposure and condemnation.
The word for ‘making atonement’ in Hebrew means to cover. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was the fulfillment of the purpose of the Day of Atonement celebrated each year in the Temple, when the sins of the people were covered by the blood of the offering in the Holy of Holies. Jesus was both the High Priest and the Sacrifice to take away our sins by covering them, ‘making atonement,’ and protecting us from condemnation. What God in Christ has done for us is meant to instruct us to do for others.
This is how we should treat one another. By extending to others our protection, our generosity, our forgiveness, we can enjoy it ourselves. Forgive as we have been forgiven. Loving one another in this way shows that we have the root of the matter in us – we have assimilated the nature of grace. We love one another deeply by not exposing the frailties of others. We are willing to make allowances, to overlook minor infractions. We are reluctant to drag faults of others into the light of day.
Nowhere is this more illustrated than in the incident of the woman taken in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus knelt down and wrote with his finger in the ground. He who knew everything, knew also what the scribes and Pharisees knew, before they told him. They soon discovered her guilt, once her sin had been exposed. They also discovered a new sin, one which they were guilty of, by trying to ensnare Jesus with their question.
But Jesus ignored them and wrote with His finger on the ground. Why did he avert his gaze? Why did he write with his finger on the ground? Did he sit there like a judge who listens attentively to the story of the accusers, who, listening, bows down and jots down the principal points so that he may not forget them, and judge strictly? Was the woman’s guilt the only thing which was noted by the Lord? Or did he write with his finger in the dust in order to erase it and forget it?
There stood the sinner, surrounded by those even more guilty, who loudly accused her, but love bowed down and did not hear the accusation, which passed over his head into the air. He wrote with his finger in order to blot out what he knew: sin discovers a multitude of sins, but love covers a multitude of sins. People who look for sin are sure to find it. Love does not look for sin.
Jesus tells them to look into their own hearts: “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Was he writing their sins on the ground and then erasing them? When they have all left leaving only the woman standing there with Jesus he asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Her sin was covered. He would make atonement for it. But she had to change her behavior.
Love always protects by silence, by not gossiping about our neighbor’s faults, for in the retelling of them the truth is often embroidered until they bear little resemblance to reality. Love always protects through mitigating explanations.
Every event, every word, every act, everything, can be explained in numerous ways. The lover will choose the most mitigating explanation. We are not called to be judges or detectives seeking to uncover guilt. How many lives have been ruined by drawing the wrong conclusions about events, and making the wrong interpretation of an action.
Love always protects. God throws his covering over us in the atonement of Jesus on the Cross. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Jesus Christ the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1,2)
Love also trusts; at all times.
All relationships are built on trust. Without it, how can you possibly hope to interact with them on any level without constant fear that they’ll lie to you or betray you? But love, to give this passage another interpretation, gives the benefit of the doubt.
We’ve all been through times in life when someone has done something to earn our distrust. We can forgive, but we won’t soon forget, and it may take a while for them to regain our full trust. There’s nothing wrong with this, but the forgiving part is very essential. And it’s never ok to distrust someone based on someone else’s actions. It’s not your wife’s fault that your ex-girlfriend hurt you. It’s not your boss’s fault that your last employer fired you unjustly. Give the benefit of the doubt.
There are those who don’t deserve our trust, but they still need our love. We should do all we can to show them that they are indeed loved despite their inability to be believed. There’s no formula for this, it’s going to be different in every case. Praying for the Holy Spirit to work through us in the relationship is one step in the right direction.
Believe the best in those you love. Don’t easily jump to conclusions, assuming the worst. Give the benefit of the doubt and show trust, until such a time as that trust is betrayed, and even then work toward repairing that element of the relationship. Follow the example of Jesus, who even though He knew the hearts of all men, gave all a chance.
Scripture to encourage you in truth today:
But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what itme of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. Matthew 24:43
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8
Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12
Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1
Today’s Challenge: Don’t air out the transgressions of your friends. Protect them from others. And forgive so you can trust again.