This morning I want to look at a verse from Proverbs. But before we do, let us read it in a couple of versions.
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth [very] friends. – Proverbs 17:9 KJV
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – Proverbs 17:9 NLT
Now, let’s talk about it.
Have you ever had someone remind you of a mistake you made years ago? If you are a husband, like me, then the answer is “Yes!”
I may be running the risk of alienating many female readers, but men who are married know that mistakes made today are likely to be discussed tomorrow…and next month…and ten years from now. You see, wives are endowed by God with the uncanny ability to remember every time a man goofs up. I am convinced it’s an ability given to them to help even out the “weaker vessel” playing field.
However, I have also learned something else about wives – they know when to draw the line. If they wanted to, they could talk all day about the stupid things we men do; but they don’t. They remind us just enough to keep us humble, but not enough to break our spirits.
Most wives actually love their husbands, you know.
Sometimes it is necessary to remind a person that is about to make a mistake what happened in the past. For instance, a true friend who might have been robbed by another friend who was drunk, or on drugs, might remind that person of his actions when he is tempted to take another drink. The reminder can be a warning designed to preserve a friendship, if not a life.
On the other hand, there are people who like to bring up the past on a regular basis. Their intentions are not to prevent anything, but to manipulate and control. That is what Solomon was talking about in today’s proverb.
The word translated repeateth is in the “active participle” tense. So, to put it another way, the person who is losing friends is the one who is continually bringing up the past.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” In other words, it is hatred that keeps uncovering the pain of the past, but love heals as it covers. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything must be forgotten, for even though a bandage covers, the bandage only signifies a wound was there in the first place.
Of course, that’s what makes grace so great. Without sin there would be no need for grace; but because of sin, grace abounds. A love that is real is a love that testifies something is covered.
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
– Julia H. Johnston (Grace Greater than Our Sin)