Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
How easily do you take offense? How do you react when a friend says something unkind? How easily do you forgive the mistakes of others? Are you quick to defend yourself? Do you refuse to be anybody’s fool or doormat? Do you forgive and forget…or do you harbor and harm? If you have a hard time letting things go, you will have a hard time cultivating truly loving friendships.
While God separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12) and chooses to remember it no more (Is. 43:25), we tend to hold on to the sin that others commit against us and keep it on a shelf – just in case we need to use it against them someday. True love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Pt. 4:8) rather than dwelling on them. It does not, however, mean that we don’t confront sin when needed or set appropriate boundaries. Some sin simply can’t be “swept under the rug”, but most of the little offenses we experience…they can be and should be.
Self-righteousness is probably the most pervasive problem when it comes to our ability to forgive a friend’s fault. When they mess up, we forget about our own shortcomings and us theirs to prop ourselves up. By dwelling on the faults of others and refusing to forgive them, we keep the spotlight off of our own junk and squarely on theirs. How convenient. If we dwell on them, separation occurs, but if we forgive, love flourishes. Which would you prefer?
The single greatest portion of Scripture on this is heard in most wedding ceremonies…and rightfully so. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 paints the perfect picture of love in action, and it would do all of us tremendous good to put it into practice:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”