Removing conflict through intentional love

Love is the basis of all forgiveness.

Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Most commentators think that the type of hatred mentioned in Proverbs 10:12 is the sense of vengeance that one might have toward an individual due to a blood feud, an unintentional death that required satisfaction. The cities of refuge in ancient Israel were designed for just such a reason, so that an individual could remain safe from vengeful relatives in the case of inadvertently causing an accidental death.

But this is not necessarily the case, as the Bible mentions others who are simply wicked individuals who are content to go around stirring up trouble.

Proverbs 6:12-14 – A worthless person, a wicked man goes around speaking dishonestly, winking his eyes, signaling with his feet, and gesturing with his fingers. He always plots evil with perversity in his heart; he stirs up trouble.

People like this tend to operate out of a capacity for hatred and distaste of righteousness. The passage says they are dishonest and always scheming some twisted or crooked plan to cause harm to others.

In contrast to this, the righteous believers are urged to demonstrate love, since love covers or conceals the unrighteous actions of others. This does not mean we should whitewash or sweep injustice out of the way, or refuse to hold people accountable for wrong actions. This verse means that we should not hold grudges for personal infractions or relational injustices that are so often the cause of individual or familial strife.

Love is the basis of all forgiveness. We tend to think of love as an emotion that comes and goes of its own free will, and if love stays in our hearts, then we remain loving toward others. However, biblical love is not like that at all. Biblical love is a choice that one makes, an intentional attitude that one demonstrates toward another, whether there are any deep emotional feelings present or not.

Proverbs 17:9 – Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends.

Notice, this type of offense is between friends, and re-telling of these offenses and injustices simply fans the flames of contention. But the intentional concealing of a personal injustice can demonstrate to that individual that you are willing to extend trust to them by keeping their error hidden from others when you may have had an opportunity to expose them.

In his famous passage to the Corinthian congregation, the apostle Paul goes even further than the proverb by suggesting to believers that in order to demonstrate true love, they not only should conceal injustices but erase them completely.

1 Corinthians 13:5 – [Love]…does not keep a record of wrongs.

One of the secrets of being able to forgive others is to not keep a record of wrongs that have been done. When there is nothing to forgive, then it becomes easier to love emotionally rather than just obediently because we are supposed to. After all, this is the injunction for all believers as a basis for our community living within the Kingdom.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.

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