We often hear “Love covers a multitude of sins” which makes us hesitant to confront sin or implement consequences when we have been sinned against. The Bible does tell us, ‘It is good for us to overlook an offense’ (Proverbs 19:11). In addition, Jesus makes it clear. We are not to judge or condemn anyone (Matthew 7:1,2).
God instructs all his followers to forbear with and forgive one another. We know we all fail one another (James 3:2), and we know that Jesus tells a person to take the log out of their own eye before attempting to deal with the speck in someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). To bring up each and every offense in any relationship would become tiresome indeed.
Love does cover a multitude of sins but not all sins. Paul tells believers that we are to distance ourselves from those who claim to be believers yet live immoral and destructive lives (1 Corinthians 5:11).
He instructs us to warn those who are lazy (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and that we ought not participate in unfruitful deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Paul also encourages believers to restore someone who is caught in a trespass (Galatians 6:1) and James exhorts us to bring a brother back who has wandered from the truth (James 5:19). When someone deeply offends us, Jesus says we’re to go talk with them so that our relationship can be repaired (Matthew 18:15-17).
Yes, we ought to forgive and forbear, overlooking minor offenses hoping others will do the same for us. And, we are to speak up when someone’s sin is hurting them, hurting others, or hurting us. Biblical love takes both paths. Godly wisdom helps us discern which path is needed for any particular situation.
Serious and repetitive sin is lethal to any relationship. We would not love the destructive person if we kept quiet and colluded with his self-deception or enabled his sin to flourish without any attempt to speak truth into his life (Ephesians 4:15).
Yes, we are called to be imitators of Christ and live a life of love, however, let’s not put a heavy burden on ourselves or someone else to do something that God himself does not do. God is gracious to the saint and unrepentant sinner alike, but he does not have close relationship with both. He says our sins separate us from him (Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 5:25).
When someone repeatedly and seriously sins against us and is not willing to look at what he or she has done and is not willing to change, it is not possible to have a warm or close relationship even if we’re married to that person.
We’ve misrepresented unconditional love sometimes to mean unconditional relationship. Jesus’ conversations with the Pharisee’s are examples of him challenging their self-deception and pride so they would repent and experience true fellowship with him (Matthew 23). He loved them, but they did not enjoy a loving or safe relationship. Jesus never pretended otherwise.
Let’s not pretend or placate in relationships just to keep the peace. Jesus never did and he loved perfectly.