Covers who exactly?

1 Feb

Did you know that genuine friendships are really hard to come by? People have this deep desire to be known intimately and then accepted and loved fully in spite of their weaknesses, faults and failures; but we struggle to attain that because we as humans, are too prone to condemnation and judgment in what is best known as self preservation.

Do you know how many friendships dissipate because someone sinned against someone else and thus started the spiral of downward condemnation? Something hurts our feelings and then we start assuming the worst about this person in every area.  We look back at things we didn’t make a big deal of before and over analyze every last action and word by the guilty party and become bitter and hard toward them.

At this point, we often discuss the situation with a third party to find support.  Sadly, we typically do not recall the great qualities about this person or the very things that made the friendship thrive in the first place.  We have eyes only for the negative.

And because of this, our story sounds highly unfair, unjust and heart-breaking.  It’s no wonder the third party chimes in with words of “You don’t deserve that. You need to cut your ties.  Friends are seasonal, and that season is up.  Life is short, you should be happy.”

But what does the Bible have to say about this?

My greatest sin in life (which I JUST realized this weekend, because I wouldn’t have answered this way before yesterday) is not allowing what Scripture has to say to be right, just, and the model I follow.

Instead, I’ve followed my feelings, (anger, sadness, bitterness, self-preservation) the counsel of the world, the self-help theologies and the third party advice given on quarter truths exaggerated by feelings instead of by fair assessment of both sides of the coin.

James 5:20 says “Remember this, Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

And I Peter 4:8 says “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

This is not the same covering as described by Jesus blood.  Our love for each other is not a substitute for salvation found only in the blood of Christ.

However, it IS a very real and tangible example of what Christ blood does for us.

When we love each other deeply, we free the sinner from bondage of self-hate, guilt, remorse and shame.  But more than that, we are COVERING and PROTECTING our OWN SELF from committing sin.

I have two people in my life who have modeled this with flawlessness in the last few years and I would like nothing more than to honor them.

First and foremost, my husband.  He has no idea how his Christ-like love and forgiveness has not only redeemed me in my sins for 14 years, but given him a testimony of purification of his own sin and restraint to commit sin that has changed me forever.  I am in awe of this miracle that can’t be done or performed in human strength, but only through the love of Christ living in him. Sacrificial love does not excuse sin, it comes along side to rescue the sinner from a fiery death and allow them grace to be healed.

And secondly, my best friend Stephanie.  Instead of running when I sin in my own life or even sin against her, she presses into the friendship with unmeasurable love. She isn’t afraid to confront my sin but at the very same time, she knows when to allow love to speak louder to be a covering for me and for her.  Love stands beside your friend and says, “I see your flaws, but don’t run away- get back over here in my embrace and we’ll get through this together. Even if you step on my toes a little in the process.” Her friendship has forever changed me and I am so thankful she loves God with all her heart so she can truly love me too.

The power to cover over a multitude of sins is not just about overlooking when we’re sinned against.  Love doesn’t mean excuse sin. It doesn’t mean become an enabler or door mat for the sinner. It means, cover sin.  Bury it quickly with mercy instead of letting it fester inside of you. Be willing to free the sinner with forgiveness from a sentence you were never given the authority by God to administer, so you also remain free instead of trapped in a prison of unforgiveness, bitterness, and judgment.

Practical Application:

Look back over your life.  How many times has your own lack of quick forgiveness led you into sin?  Maybe even years of sin?

How do I feel about covering sin? Do I struggle with the thought that it allows the other person to get away with things? Does that mean I have to allow myself to keep getting hurt? Is it possible that my unloving actions further pushed others away from God and into more sin where the forgiveness, mercy and grace afforded to them quickly by me may have brought greater conviction?

These are just some things I’ve been meditating on and searching the scriptures to understand better.  You’re welcome to share your insights as well!

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2 Responses to “Covers who exactly?”

  1. Bethany February 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Thank you for your thoughts and insights. I agree that we need to stand by the people we love even amidst their sin. However, I’ve experienced more than one friendship in my life that became an unchanging toxic influence…on both sides. My spiritual maturity was not at a place to deal with the other person’s sin in a healthy way and they were not open to being called out on their sin, even by someone more mature and able to deal with it. After much prayer and effort, it was better for both of us to part ways. It was messy but I’ve learned and grown a lot from those broken relationships. We can be grateful to others who stand by us but we can’t make someone else deal with their sin if they aren’t ready.

    • Kayla Gulick February 1, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Yes! There are definitely times when those who are unrepentant of sin can become toxic and dangerous to us. Scripture does give us a great way to confront sin but then also allows us to remove ourselves from the situation when that person doesn’t listen and chooses not to confess and repent.

      I was speaking a little more about those times when we get hurt by someone or take something the wrong way and then give Satan permission to run a muck instead of pressing on in patience, endurance, mercy and grace to keep God’s desire for fellowship alive and healthy.

      I don’t mean to suggest that “cover” ever means to keep ourselves in physical or spiritual danger. However, even in those times, covering the sin with love for the person as I think I’m learning is suggested in scripture still allows us to back away without a nasty fallout, continue to pray for that person and also protect US from sinning by harboring unforgiveness, bitterness or resentment.

      I think I’m learning that covering someone’s sin honestly just means understanding that sin is so painful and dangerous for the sinner and learning to feel broken for them because you love them with a Christ-like love, even if you’re hurt or know it’s best to walk away. It’s choosing to see them through mercy, being willing to pardon the sinner just as Christ would with their repentance. Seeing their sin, not as worse than someone else’s sin, but as equally damaging and separating from the God who loves them unconditionally and hoping that they find freedom from the bondage they are in – whether self-induced from ignorance or deceived by Satan.

      I’m so sorry you’ve had the fall out of some broken friendships. That can be so painful and even make it hard to trust new friends in the future. I pray you find healing from those situations. And rest assured that if the situations were toxic, it truly was absolutely best to remove yourself! I also desire for God to bless you with some deep and fruitful life-long friendships too! Sending a prayer up for you right now!!

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