The heart exposed through interaction...
"Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends."
We learn almost everything from relationships. We are relational beings. This is why even the first man, created in the image of God, desired a mate. He deeply needed one of his "own kind" to experience life with. None of us can live on an island from one another. Actually we are warned from doing so by being labeled as one that "seeks his own desire and one that breaks out against sound judgment" if we decide this path. (Proverbs 18:1) God wants us to live as we are created with healthy and beneficial relationships. And more times than not, we can gauge our relationship with God based on our depth of our relationships with others. If we love Him with everything we have then we will be willing to love others with the same. (Matthew 22:38-40) A couple questions to get us started: In your relationships are you a separator or a seeker? Do you run towards resolution or leave behind wreckage?
Solomon answers one of the key principles that God created relationships to develop in us in Proverbs 17:9. And this is our reaction to hurt. Any real relationship will end up with injury. It's inevitable. The longer you continue on a journey with someone by your side the more opportunities arise to say something or do something that causes pain. And the way we react to this situation is what God uses to show all of us the true nature of our heart. According to Proverbs, if we react by "covering up the offense" we are "seekers of love", but if we continue to hold on to hurt, pain, and injury we "separate" from each other and show a heart of selfishness.
At the homeless shelter we see many people who blame others for the circumstances they find themselves in. And more times than not, the main reason that they are at the door needing help, is not the others fault, but their own hard heart and unwillingness to forgive. Why is it so hard to forgive? Why are we so stubborn? In Hebrews 12:15, God says, "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled". The first reason is that we are not focused on the grace of God.
How much do you value God's grace? Depending how you answer that question will be the litmus test for how willing you are to "cover up the offense" of a friend or spouse. God's grace is what gives us the ability to truly forgive. His grace is what allows us to turn the other cheek and continue to serve. And a distorted view of grace will not only amount to a faulty foundation for the church (which is a post for another time), but ruins our ability to have lasting relationships with others.
Admiration not competition. Healthy relationships admire one another they don't compete with one another. This is why the last of the ten commandments says, "Do not covet" because God knew that relationships can become an object driven exercise if we aren't careful. A loving heart reflected relationally admires one another and sees the person not the possessions. And without this motivation, it is impossible to "cover an offense". How could you? The reason for competition is to find a winner which means that forgiveness does not and could not exist within that construct. Look up to the ones you love and you will be able to look over and past their shortcomings.
Most importantly, a true relationship requires trust. For at the start of trust is love. As the Apostle Paul states ,"love always trusts". (1 Corinthians 13) Ask yourself, are you capable of trusting someone that you can't look at and love? Of course not. On the other hand, are you able to love someone you can't trust and have a meaningful relationship with them? Probably not. This proverb could be rephrased by saying, "God-centered relationships will strive to love and trust one another through all circumstances. Though they will not, after injury and harm has been done, continue to repeat the same activity without creating a divide."
Know that the most important relationship you can ever have is with God your Creator. He made you to walk with Him and be with Him. He loves you beyond your wildest imagination. He willingly, without coersion, gave up His Son's life to become a sacrifice for you and me by dying on a cross 2,000 years ago. After 3 days, He came back from the dead and showed himself to more than 500 people over 40 days. Then He went to heaven with the promise that He is coming again to bring us to where He will be. If you take this good news, the Gospel, and have faith, you can trust that His relationship with you will be an everlasting one. Don't miss out. Give your life to Him today.