Read: Proverbs 10:1-14
Consider: Readings in Proverbs are always thought-provoking as they force us to consider what are words of wisdom written over 2,000 years ago and how they apply to us today. Today’s reading from Proverbs 10 contains the verse: Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs (10:12). This reminds me of what is said about love in 1 Corinthians 13, where we read: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When you read what this says about love, do you think that it is an impossible standard to achieve?
Can you see that the love envisaged in the Bible is not a warm, fuzzy feeling a person gets when they are ‘in love’. What is described is a rational choice being made between loving and not loving. It recognises that when faced by human interactions that are below optimal, a choice has to be made on how to respond. The verse from Proverbs 10 tells us that ‘hatred stirs up conflict’, indicating that resolving hurtful situations cannot be achieved by retaliation, or a desire for revenge. Instead, adopting a loving attitude means that ‘love covers over all wrongs’ (Proverbs 10:12) and love ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ (1 Corinthians 13:5).
In his letters to the churches, Paul speaks of forgiving others in these terms:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Thinking of love from God’s perspective reminds us that we are totally undeserving of being the object of God’s love. We may feel that the person who has hurt us does not deserve to be treated with love, but that is the point. Not one of us deserves to receive God’s love in Christ, yet we have done so. The standard of our love for others is being able to forgive them knowing that they don’t deserve it, but choosing to love them anyway; just like Jesus did in dying on the cross for us and God did by allowing him to die in our place.
What is the application of this to our everyday lives? It applies to all our relationships, whether at home, at church, at work or at leisure. It applies to relationships with spouses, children, parents, relatives, neighbours, work colleagues, acquaintances, friends, political opponents and fellow believers. If you are facing difficulty in applying this to a relationship with someone at the moment, pray and ask God for the insight to see the extent of the love he has lavished on you and for the strength and humility to do whatever is necessary to heal the relationship.
Pray: Father, help us in all our relationships to apply unconditional love, modelled on your love for us in Christ. Give us a heart that is willing to forgive and to express love, even in difficult circumstances. Amen