[Column] God’s Will is To Cover an Offense

Everyone has an offense and it is God’s will to cover that offense. “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9). If we abide in God’s love, we must cover others’ offenses rather than uncover them. As we speak of others’ offenses, we naturally resort to fault findings to the most intimate degree. While people may disclose their offenses to God, they would rather hide their offense from others. The Bible tells us to acknowledge that everyone has secrets. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19). In other words, the Bible warns us not to associate with those who disclose people’s secrets. He who is sincere covers and hides others’ secrets. Unless a person voluntarily reveals his or her offenses and secrets, we must cover them and wait. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).

In life, we may argue with our neighbor. If such an argument arises, we must mention only the cause of the argument. We must not disclose his or her sordid offenses or secrets. “If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence” (Proverbs 25:9). This is an absolute command from God. In chapter 9 of Genesis, we see Noah fall asleep naked after being drunk. Upon seeing this, Ham mocked his father and told his brothers. His two brothers Shem and Japheth walked in backward and covered Noah’s nakedness. Later, Ham is cursed. We must cover the offenses of leaders and those around us.

In chapter 12 of Numbers, we see that Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses for having married a Cushite woman. Then, God says in anger, “Why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” Miriam contracted leprosy as a result and later was healed through Moses’ prayers. Unless God took away the power of a leader, we would still have to acknowledge his authority even if he has offenses. The world would be chaotic if people refuse to acknowledge the authority of leaders upon learning of their offenses. We must turn to God for the ultimate solution to unqualified leadership. In the Bible, it is God who chooses Saul as king and who later removes him. David had numerous opportunities to destroy Saul, yet he waited till God’s intervention.

We must tolerate and pray about others’ offenses. Following His resurrection, Jesus Christ said something very important: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23). God gave the believers of Christ the power to remove sins. That power is known as repentance and forgiveness. In Lord’s Prayer, we recite, “Lead us not into temptation.” “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). What is the proper context here? If we do not forgive, we may fall into temptation. That is why God wants us to tolerate others’ offenses. There was a pastor of a mega church. As he was driving one day, he noticed a cab driver suddenly cut into his lane. The pastor then tailgated the cab and yelled all sorts of profanity at the driver. Ironically, the driver remained silent and said to the pastor, “Pastor, please forgive me.” The dumbfounded pastor asked the cab driver, “Do you go to church.” The driver then said, “I’m a member of your church.” How embarrassing it must have been for the pastor. He must have regretted his actions. We must be broadminded in dealing with others’ offenses (2 Corinthians 6:13).

Instead of condemning others for their offenses, we must pray for them (Luke 6:27-28; Mark 11:25). “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). It does not say pray for only those who are good to us. It says all people; we must pray for even those who persecute, hate, and harm us. Speaking to others about people’s offenses becomes criticism whereas doing the same to God becomes a prayer. Prayer, not criticism, transforms people, communities, and the world. May all of you attain spiritual maturity and live according to God’s will as you cover others’ offenses.

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