Peace in the church calls us to under-accuse, over-repent and over-forgive. Let us not be afraid to call sin sin, but let us not be slow to forgive it and to look past it.
-R.C. Sproul Jr.
Today, I want to talk about the beauty in covering. By covering, I mean covering the sins of another. I know that sounds a little shady (haha), but I promise it’s not.
I looked up “cover” in the dictionary, and there’s a couple definitions I want to go over:
1. Put something such as a cloth or lid on top of or in front of (something) to protect or conceal it.
2. Disguise the illicit absence or wrongdoing of (someone) in order to spare them punishment.
To cover someone’s sin doesn’t mean to ignore it; it means I’m not going to tell the world about their sin. I’m going to pray about it, talk to that person about it, and try to help that person move past it. Let’s look at Noah.
“Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.
When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father.
Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” Genesis 9:20-25
I remember my pastor bringing this up as he was preaching. I was a little confused. First of all, Noah was drunk, and definitely in the wrong. Secondly, covering up someone’s sin? Isn’t that like lying? I just didn’t get it. The Holy Spirit began to break it down for me in terms of my pastor. My spiritual father, who I love so much. Who I trust, care about, and know that at the end of the day, he always has the best intentions for everyone, and he’ll always, ALWAYS choose God first. So he allowed me to picture this man, caught up in something I have a hard time seeing past, like adultery. He asked me, “Would you forget his character and who he is? In light of sin – because no sin holds greater weight than the other – would you forget who he is? The calling on his life, the sacrifices he’s made in My name, for others and for YOU? Are you who YOU are based on your past sins?”
The Holy Spirit is TOO real. Whaaaaattt? #Preach.
So I think about Ham. Ham who ran outside to tell his brothers, “hahaha, daddy’s drunk and naked.” Who took pleasure in seeing his father’s sin; in seeing him mess up. That speaks volumes about his character. Ham represents the people who, amidst finding out some bad information about their pastor/spiritual father, don’t seek God about leaving the church – they leave because they’ve decided that what he did is unforgivable. They leave out of offense, and tell everybody why. They leave offended, feeling victimized. Which is anti-biblical:
“You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace.” Isaiah 55:12
So what is my job here? We know it’s certainly not to spread the news around town. When I think about Shem and Japheth, who covered their father, I think of those people who, in times of trouble, cover their leaders in prayer.
Bring the issue to the Lord and ask Him for healing for them, and healing for anyone necessary in the situation. They may choose to reveal it to the congregation, they may not – our job is to be obedient to the Lord regardless. All of our sins aren’t out there for the world to see. It may not be the time for him to reveal, if at all. If we’re offended by what happened, as the Lord leads, go directly to your leader. Talk it out with them. Get it off your chest, hear him out, and take every opportunity to reconcile, as to not hinder your love and obedience. But cover them. Cover them in prayer, in obedience, and in love. Because if you’re under a leader who seeks God first, they would do the same for you.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8
In His love, Christ covers our sins continually. The Holy Spirit is our advocate, constantly going to God on our behalf. Sometimes we look at how amazing God is, and forget that we’re called to be like HIM! To love like Him! If He’s doing it, He’ll teach us how to do it when we seek Him. It has nothing to do with right and wrong, fair and unfair. Our goal is to look from God’s perspective, and the other person’s perspective, and be Christ like.
This reminds me of a poem I listened to on youtube. In this poem called “The Covenant”, Preston Perry, a part of Passion for Christ Ministries, describes his relationship with his now-wife, Jackie Hill-Perry (he was actually proposing to her in the poem):
“Our relationship brought out the war in her. Her heart became a battlefield, her tongue turned into a shield, and her eyes were like two swords that cut deep with every stare. And her warrior-like behavior shook the marrow out of my bones; I was confused as to how I became the enemy in a matter of months. I started to question her love for me, and then one day the Lord spoke and said,
“Preston, if you had been hurt in battle too many times to count, you would adopt some cruel and war-type tactics too. I’m calling you to love her. Not like you, but like Me.
The type of love that would never leave.
Even when her sharp rejection cuts the skin of your pride,
and the fear of being vulnerable starts to shiver your soul,
How you first rejected My love too, but I still pursued you with ocean-like passion,
and then I wooed you, like a hopeful romantic,
and even when your sins felt like the nails that drove their rusty bodies into My divine hands
to pin Me to a cross that I built, I still chose to love you.”
– Preston Perry, “The Covenant”
God had OPTIONS. Doesn’t that make you leap? He CHOSE to love us. Never had to.
It saddened and angered me when I heard about a person of influence, who had dealt with infidelity, and gotten a divorce, put it on facebook. Calling out not only his wife, but the person who she’d engaged in infidelity with. I remember saying, “God forbid. Lord forbid. God forbid that I should marry a man who would put my sins on display like that.”
I understand that her sin was wrong, definitely; I also understand that he was taking the heat for the divorce and was trying to cover his own tail. It was just so not Christ-like. After that, I didn’t even care what she did! I was so displeased with what he’d done. I thought about Christ. If he were on this earth, is that what He would have done? What if God let everyone know my dirt, pointing fingers in every area I’ve messed up in? It’s not like I don’t share my testimony and my struggles, but there’s just no love in that act. It reminded me of Joseph (earthly father of Jesus):
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:18-19
MMMMmmmmmmm Man of GOD! That just fills me up. It’s easy to expose someone’s sin when you’ve been wronged and blacken their reputation all over town; it takes the HOLY SPIRIT, faithfulness to God, to cover someone, when you KNOW they’re wrong. It’s such a beautiful act of faithfulness and reverence to God. Personally, it impresses me so much, I can’t even explain. I believe God included that in His Word to show us what kind of man Joseph was, and to show us why he was chosen to raise our beloved Savior. Such love. Such protection. Remember the definition: to protect or conceal it; disguise the illicit absence or wrongdoing of (someone) in order to spare them punishment.
So what do you do if you catch a brother, sister, or leader in a terrible sin? The Bible gives us clear instructions:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you
If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matt. 18:15-17
The goal here is to get that person out of their sin – that’s it. Not to call them out so they “get what they deserve.” In love we are to confront their sin, and get them out of it as unscathed as possible. That’s what God does with us. He covers our sins and allows us to heal from it. He doesn’t ignore our sin – He has mercy on us.
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! Psalm 32:1-2
“My transgression is sealed up in a bag, And You wrap up my iniquity. Job 14:17
You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin. Psalm 85:2
He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends. Prov. 17:9
Look at those scriptures – God is just constantly covering us! It takes a lot, but this is what happens when we allow the love of Jesus to reign in our hearts. There’s a beautiful pattern in the Word of God of covering, starting with our Savior. No matter how we mess up, time and time again, God covers our sins, washes them away, and helps us to grow from them. If we can be like Jesus and begin to live this, I truly believe that the kind of life we’d live would change the world. We live in a “call’em out!” society. Our kingdom, however, is not like that. Let’s set our minds on things above, and do everything we can to grow in God. Love you guys!!!
Preston Perry, “The Covenant”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ0sxnQvVMA