Proverbs 10:12b

Love Covereth All Sins


1. This verse is a parallelism of opposites: love and hate; cover and stirring up;

2. The last time in Proverbs we looked at the first half: hatred that stirs up strife. We noted that Proverbs has a lot to say about troublemakers!

3. The opposite of stirring up strife through hatred is now discussed: exercising LOVE to cover up sins.

4. This passage is quoted or alluded to by both Peter (4;8) and James (5:20)

WHAT does this NOT mean?
• Liberals have interpreted the verse to mean that kindness and love will cover our sins in the sense of atoning for sin. (good works will make up for our sins)
• It does not mean a spiritually insensitive indifference to sin.
• Jesus certainly did not cover up all the sins of the Pharisees.
• John the Baptist didn’t cover up the sin of Herod.
• It does not mean covering up a crime from the authorities.
• It does not mean covering up our own sins.

HOW does love cover sin?

1. Sometimes love covers sin by going to a brother and POINTING OUT HIS SIN… in love… and meekness.

a. Matt. 18:15-18 – When a fault between believers is settled on a one to one basis, the sin can be covered up permanently. It need not be repeated.
• We are to seek his restoration… confession to God and forgiveness from God.
• THEN his sin is truly covered—covered by the blood of Christ and forgiven. (I John 1:9)
• But if the brother doesn’t respond, the sin may not be covered.

b. James 5:19-20 – James quotes Proverbs 10:12 and applies it to restoration of a brother.
• It is a brother (one of YOU)
• A brother errs (wanders) from the truth—involved in false doctrine or wrong practice.
• If a brother coverts him (causes him to turn around and come home), he has saved a soul from death (God may have taken his life!)
• And he covered a multitude of sins—restored a brother from a life of sin… now that brother walks with God.
• Anyone who is willing to restore a brother like that is demonstrating Christlike LOVE!

2. Sometimes love covers up sin by OVERLOOKING it.

a. When a believer loses their temper… when a brother says an unkind word… an indiscretion… when a brother speaks a word of slander in passing… (a little dig)…

b. There is a time to rebuke; there is a time to remain silent too. Pray for discernment to know the difference. (Ecc. 3:7)
• Matt. 23 – Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees.
• John 8:3-11 – Jesus attempted to cover up the sin of the woman caught in adultery. He did not ignore her sin, but forgave her… and did what He could to take it OUT of the limelight.

c. One who walks worthily will “forbear one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
• We are to forbear one another… bear with one another’s shortcomings… faults…
• Note that this is done in love. Love forbears and covers the faults of others. Hatred digs them up and exposes to the public eye.

d. I Cor. 13:7 – love bears all things… even our faults and indiscretions…

e. Love seeks to cover it up… by not repeating it. (Prov. 17:9)
• This is a more aggressive wording. It involves actively SEEKING to do deeds of love by covering up sin.
• This implies more than passively overlooking a sin. This implies actively seeking to cover it up.

f. Ex: Joseph to his brothers (Gen. 45:5-8)
• What a perfect opportunity to expose their sin and rub it in their face.
• He could have made them pay dearly.
• Instead, Joseph chose to bury it. It was history.
• It must have been tempting for Joseph to seek revenge… he certainly would have been justified in the eyes of men after what his brothers did to him!
• Love covers sin; hatred stirs up strife and drags out the controversy.
• Have you ever been in a position to rub someone’s sin in their face? It feels good to get even… but it’s sin.
• Love covers it up… hatred stirs it up.

g. Overlooking the faults and sins of others often involves forgiveness—if the offence is against you.
• Wicked men and righteous men both overlook sin—but for different reasons.

• The wicked hide their own sin: deceit.
• The righteous hides the sins of others: forgiveness.
• The word for “cover” is translated “forgiven” in Ps.32:1
• When someone sins against you, are you able to cover it up? Forgive them without making a big deal of it?
• Some sins against you may require going to the brother (if it is eating away at you…)
• On other occasions it is best to simply bury it… cover it up… and not spread it.

3. Sometimes love covers up sin by NOT EXPOSING IT.

a. Shem and Japheth (Gen. 9:23)

b. It was a shameful thing that did not need to be looked at, exposed, or discussed. (Eph. 5:12)

c. The Bible describes much sinful behavior (adultery; homosexuality; murder; incest) — but (unlike Hollywood) it does so without the gory and grisly details! It covers them up.

d. Even if a sin has been exposed, love covers up the shameful details.

4. I have known believers who have gone overboard in one direction or the other with this issue.

a. Some make a big deal out of every sin and infraction and insist that discipline be executed each and every time.

b. Others seem to overlook every sin as if it were nothing… taking a light view of sin.

c. There needs to be discernment exercised in knowing what to do in different situations.

d. These two concepts also seem to describe two different parenting types: the military drill sergeant vs. the lenient parent who is indifferent towards sin.

e. As in everything, there needs to be a discerning balance. Going overboard in any direction is never a good idea.

5. Love will not only overlook the sin—but it will overlook the offence.

a. It will not hold grudges… ill feelings toward the offender…

b. It will be ready to bury the offence… not bring it up again…

6. By this kind of love, strife is avoided. (work; home; church)

a. When someone does or says something against you, are you able to say, “It was an oversight; it was done through forgetfulness; it was an oversight”… in some way to put the best construction on it.

b. Or do you have to dig up every word said about you? Every deed?

c. I have dealt with some folks who seem to have been on a rampage in what they called “a quest for truth.” “I just want to know the truth.” When in reality, they are bent on digging up dirt…

d. How much better to be able to bury dirt… to overlook indiscretions of others… to cover a multitude of sins… that’s love.