Mud Covers a Multitude of Sins

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We knew when we started this home renovation that one of the biggest tasks would be the ceilings. Before we got our new metal roof a few years back, we had an old, leaky roof that caused water damage to the ceilings throughout the house. The leaks were now gone, but the evidence of their previous presence remained.  

Additionally, our ceilings were done in a pattern. Think popcorn ceiling with more pizazz. The problem is this type of decor is seriously outdated. Buyers now want beautiful, smooth ceilings, which is why Jason has been slaving for several days to fill, sand, and paint the ceilings. They’re looking great, but it has taken a lot of work, especially in the water-damaged areas.  

Yes, these spots took some extra mud (which is like putty yet somehow different) and a lot of extra time and patience. Fortunately, my husband’s efforts have paid off, and onlookers can no longer tell that the ceilings were once damaged by water. They look like new. As Jason and I surveyed his latest work, he cleverly commented, “Yes, mud covers a multitude of sins.” Witty, isn’t he? His statement got me thinking, and my mind wandered to the source of his comment.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
— I Peter 4:8
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
— Proverbs 10:12

In the Hebrew language, the word “cover” carries with it the meaning of forgiveness. Just as the mud covered the faults and stains on the ceiling, so does our love cover the injustices or offenses done to us. We choose to let them be hidden. It doesn’t mean the deeds or words were right or that they didn’t hurt us, but instead of allowing ourselves to get angry or bitter, we choose instead to forgive. We place a covering over it and hide it. From ourselves. From the offender. And from any other onlookers. That’s just what love does.

I’ll admit, I struggle with this. When someone does me wrong, my natural tendency is not to cover it up but rather to blow it out of proportion. I make a big deal out of it and make sure others know how I’ve been hurt or offended. Sadly, forgiveness rarely enters the scene until the Lord has thoroughly convicted me about my poor reactions and prompted me to make things right. In the meantime, I’ve made a mess of things, and sometimes the mess cannot be cleaned up.

How much better off would it have been for me to forgive? By failing to do so, I only proved how incomplete my love truly is. And you do the same when you fail to allow love to cover up the faults of others. We’re not talking about a license to sin or to mistreat others. Let’s face it, we’re all human; therefore, we all make mistakes. Let’s recognize that the next time a fellow human messes up and give him or her the benefit of the doubt. In other words, let’s not sweat the small stuff. Instead, let’s cover it up and hide it away, never to be seen again. It’s better that way. . . just like our ceilings.

Love, True Love

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Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
— I John 4:7-21
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Temperance as a Characteristic of Love

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Leave it to the Lord to save the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) for last.  Yes, today, we’re talking about temperance—another word whose usage has been lost over the centuries.  However, if we pinpoint the beginning of the word, we’ll see something we’re all painfully familiar with—temper.

In its simplest definition, temperance means self-control or restraint.  It carries with it the idea of keeping a tight rein on our words, actions, attitudes, and desires.  This is not a popular principle in this day and age where people live to “get what they deserve.”  Between all-you-can-eat buffets, credit cards, and social media, our self-control is tested every day.  Should I go back for another plate, or is three enough?  Should I go ahead and spend the money on that new furniture even though I don’t have the money to spend?  And don’t even get me started on the rants that take place on social media.  Of course, this is only a few areas where our temperance is put to the test.

First Corinthians 13:5 tells us love is “not easily provoked.”  Jason and I joked about this on the way to the grocery store this morning.  He was in one of his playful moods (which translates into seeing how much he can annoy me) and was making this terrible clicking sound with his mouth.  After about ten seconds, I looked over at him, and I guess the expression on my face was comical because he burst out laughing.  “I was wondering how long you’d let me do that before giving me that look.”  I laughed too and told him how my devotion today was on temperance.  I don’t think his clicking truly provoked me but had he continued, I may have become a bit irritable.  So much for self-control, right?

As if that phrase doesn’t make us squirm enough, Paul doesn’t stop there.  He goes on in verse 7 to remind us that love bears all things.  The word “bear” in this verse implies a covering, as in love covers all sin.  It’s not that we excuse the sins of those we love but instead, we choose to overlook their faults and focus on their strengths, and let me tell you, that takes a lot of self-control.  So many times, it’s easier to see the bad than the good.  Dwelling on the negative leads to bitterness which then leads to hateful words and harsh actions.  From there, the downward spiral continues until marriages are ended, friendships are ruined, and other relationships are destroyed.

As I was praying about and considering my word for 2019, one that ranked high on the list was the word “choose.”  Had I decided to use it as my daily motto, it would have served as a reminder that I have a choice in how I think, act, and feel.  Each day, I choose to dwell on the positive or the negative.  I decide whether or not to surrender my will to God fully.  I determine how I act and what my attitude is like.  Each day is full of choices.  I can choose to let my temper get the best of me—to be easily provoked—or I can choose not to sweat the small stuff.  So what if Jason left his socks in the middle of the floor again?  In the grand scheme of things, does it matter?  Isn’t it more important that I focus on the fact that he took time out of his day off to help me with the grocery shopping so the task wouldn’t be too much for me?  Absolutely!

One phrase we carelessly use in our everyday language is the phrase:  “make me.”  For example, “he makes me so angry” or “she made me feel bad.”  Dear one, if we’re allowing others to dictate how we act or feel, we’re giving them far too much control over our lives.  No one can “make us” angry or emotional.  We choose to give in to those feelings, and that’s where temperance comes in.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  When someone says something unkind, my first reaction is to take the comment as a personal insult and give into the painful emotions that accompany that choice.  Instead, I should shrug my shoulders and hold fast to the truth found in God’s Word.  If someone doesn’t like it, oh well!  As long as I’m doing right, that’s all I need to worry about.  It’s not my job to please everyone in the process, and the sooner I get that through my thick skull, the better off I’ll be.

Temperance.  Self-control.  Restraint.  How are you doing today?  Are you easily provoked by someone’s annoying habits or quirky personality?  Do you find it difficult to look past the negative to focus on the positive?  Do you blame others for how you feel, speak, or act?  If so, you may want to talk with the Lord about helping you work on your temperance.  After all, if we—as Christians—lack self-control, how can we adequately portray the love of Christ?

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
— II Timothy 1:7