Proverbs 17:9

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.


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Forgive and forget is love. Do you know how to win love and build friendships? They are arts taught by wisdom – they are learned behavior. All men are naturally arrogant, envious, hateful, malicious, selfish, and vengeful (Rom 1:29-31; II Tim 3:2-3; Tit 3:3).

Only God’s grace can save a man from his inherited evil tendencies from Adam. Then love and friendship can be learned by wisdom (Pr 8:9; 14:6; Tit 3:4-7). Dale Carnegie’s ideas on winning friends and influencing people are very inferior to Solomon’s wisdom.

Have you learned love and friendship? Are you a loving friend? Do others rejoice in your friendship? Do you have many friends? True love and friendship overlook and forget personal offences against you, but foolish men will bring them up and destroy peaceful relationships. True love and friendship never repeat a person’s failures or sins to others, but foolish men will be backbiting, talebearing, and whispering (Pr 10:12; 11:13; 16:28).

Covering a transgression is how you show love and win friends. It is forgiving and forgetting personal wrongs others do to you. A certainty of human relations is that others will irritate and offend you. But what you do with those personal transgressions is the key. By ignoring the provocations and slights of others, you esteem them more important than yourself – which is true love and friendliness (Phil 2:3; I Cor 13:4-7).

Wise men glory in opportunities to pass over personal transgressions by others; their discretion and self-control eliminate their anger (Pr 19:11). Nothing ruffles them, especially the minor irritations that commonly occur among men. They know they have been forgiven much, so it is easy for them to forgive others. They know they have beams in their eyes, so they do not worry about the minor specks in others’ eyes (Matt 7:3-5).

Covering a transgression is how you show love and win friends. It silences every backbiting tongue and drives away every talebearer and whisperer (Pr 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 20:19; 25:23; 26:20-22; Ps 101:5). It refuses to repeat rumors or facts that degrade a person’s reputation. True love thinks no evil of others and does not rejoice when it hears of failures or sins in others’ lives (I Cor 13:4-7). Covering a transgression is burying news that reflects poorly on another’s character. Love protects the reputations of others.

Covering transgressions is not compromising with sin. If a man sins against the LORD, it must be dealt with differently than offences between men (I Sam 2:25; I Cor 5:1-5; 6:7). God’s rules for handling these greater matters are dealt with throughout the Scriptures. You should never cover or overlook sin against God to win or keep friends. The topic at hand is personal offences you may cover (Pr 19:11; Matt 5:38-48; 18:15-22; I Cor 6:1-8), or the failures and sins of others that are not your responsibility. If a man has repented of a sin, no matter how heinous, there is no love or profit in repeating it to others.

Arrogant and rebellious men will not learn the wisdom of covering personal offences, and ignorant and foolish men cannot learn it. Both pretend they must protect themselves by reminding others about faults and weaknesses. They believe they must avenge any slight they feel from others. They cannot let offences pass. They must remind others of their sins. They burn inside, sometimes for years, for slight offences. They must get revenge.

In order to justify themselves and demote others, they repeat any failure they hear about others. They have a burning heart that loves to hear gossip about others and spread it widely. They receive perverse pleasure by being able to insinuate and whisper about the sins of others. These wicked beasts do not know love and thus seldom have real friends.

Love and friendship begin in the heart. When others offend you, ignore it, even in your heart. When others slight you, ignore it, even in your heart. When others provoke you, think kind and merciful thoughts about them. Do not think of reprisal. Forget the matter. Do not plan an opportunity to bring it up. When others fail or have sin in their lives, do not gloat or glory about it. Be known only for repeating blessings and successes of others.

Love and friendship are best practiced at home. If you can be charitable, gracious, and merciful with siblings or a spouse, you can be so to any man. Children must be taught to overlook sibling offences rather than tattle or revenge them; they must be taught to never repeat sibling failures to others. They must learn to cover offences and seek love.

This proverb can enhance your marriage. Because marriage is a familiar and intimate relationship with another, you will know more of your spouse’s faults and failures than any other person. Can you cover, forgive, and overlook without saying anything? Or do you think that bringing up the matter again helps either you or them? You know nothing about love, and you will destroy your marriage by building walls between marital friends.

Ignore and overlook personal offences against you by others. Do not repeat rumors, gossip, or facts about others that put them in a bad light. Both of these are sins against Christian charity that destroy love and friendships. Let every man show the same forgiveness to others that God has shown to him (Eph 4:31-32). The joy and security of faults and failures being forgiven and forgotten are blessings of the Christian religion.