(Photo by Selma Komisky)
All Fall Short
By Jacqueline Napoli
It’s common knowledge that stress destroys health. Whether it’s our nation and its crisis of hatred and anger, or the pressures of daily life we all face and the illness they create, stress creates an environment of weakness and tension that leaves its host defenseless. Stress comes automatically in life without us having to ask for it. But there is another serious stress which we can create for ourselves, and it not only damages our bodies, but it wreaks havoc in our relationships, too. This stress is drama addiction, or as the bible bluntly calls it, hatred.
“Hate starts quarrels,” according to Proverbs 10:12 (God’s Word Translation). Other translations tell us that hatred stirs up “strife,” “contention,” “judgments,” and “discord.” Sometimes we like to think that the reason we are constantly fighting with everybody is because they are so messed up or obnoxious. But the reality is, if we are constantly picking fights, bickering, judging, and wrangling, we are emotionally and spiritually sick, with hatred carjacking the driver’s seat of our lives. Clearly this is bad news, something we should deal with immediately. 1 John 2:11 warns that if we are hateful, we walk in darkness and are totally blinded by it. So, quick spiritual health checkup: do you frequently find yourself stuck in lots of arguments? If yes, and try not to debate with me here (lol…get it?), it’s time to repent. This is not a behavior we are designed to practice.
“…But love covers every wrong,” the Proverb continues. Someone might think, covers every wrong? As in, never say a thing and let people walk all over me? Wait a minute. That’s enabling bad behavior! No way. Well, yes and no. God is not saying we ought to be doormats. Other Scriptures show the balance. Ephesians 4:25 states, “Laying aside all falsehood” (as in the silent, simmering resentment caused by a one-sided, unhealthy relationship), we are to “speak the truth every man to his neighbor.” There is a godly balance we can strike between being a nitpicking hate-monger on one hand, and a miserable doormat on the other. And that balance is the delicate art of “covering” over the wrongs, sins, and slip-ups of others. Easier said than done, but if we lean on the Holy Spirit, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew19:26).
There are two ways to “cover every wrong.” The first is plain: blow it off. We don’t need to have a conniption fit every time somebody hurts our feelings or behaves stupidly. Remember, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). We all need a ton of mercy. Think of how many times you’ve messed up, yourself. Hatred has a habit of pick, pick, picking. Love says, “Meh, no big deal.” To a whole lot of stuff. If this is new to you, pray for grace and get cracking. “Meh. No big deal.” It gets easier. That’s covering wrongs, and it transforms you into a person of love.
Another way is to address it, but softly. “A soft tongue breaks a bone” (Proverbs 25:15). Simply how you bring something up can escalate a minor matter into all-out war. A gentle, humorous, and lighthearted (and not long-winded–very important!) approach ups the odds that you can make decent progress in the matter. But either way, whether your soft rebuke is heard or not, you can commit it to the Lord for Him to work on, and cover that wrong up by forgetting about it. Let God do the rest, go on your way doing and speaking good things, and there you go. You are walking in love!
Practice it and make it your way. It’s the way of love, and there is nothing greater or healthier than that. Soon you will be vibrant, alive, and full of goodness, and your body, spirit, and relationships will certainly thank you heartily for it.