"Covering" Sin

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The book of James ends with this interesting reminder: “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19, 20).

We generally do very poorly at this. Somewhere in the back of our minds is the thought that if we ignore things long enough they will either go away or sort themselves out. Or we pull the Calvinist rabbit out of the hat and fold our arms and say: “God will take care of it.” The truth is, dealing with sin and the sinner connected to it, is messy and we simply don’t want to get involved. Perhaps worse yet, we “snitch” on the "sinner" and expect someone else to take care of the problem for us.

But the instructions are clear. Matthew 18:15 says: “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.”

Paul’s greatest desire was to be the instrument that God used to save some of his people, the Jews (Romans 11:14), so he talked and talked and talked! That same desire for the well-being of others should be what brings urgency to our lives—bringing others face to face with truth—even if it is messy.

“Messy” isn’t necessarily a guaranteed reaction when we face someone with a sin. If we follow Peter’s instructions we have a much better chance of being able to resolve the situation happily rather than messily. Peter writes: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

To go to another person with love in your heart, with concern for their spiritual well-being and in humility, knowing how often we stray ourselves, is perhaps the greatest demonstration of true discipleship that we can live out.

And the most rewarding.


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