I might as well come clean with you now and tell you what I think the entire Bible really means, what it boils down to for me, what my guiding philosophy is for reading it, for living it.
The Bible boils down to one word, best summed up in Latin: caritas.
Charity. Love. Lovingkindness.
Love God, and love your neighbor. If it's not love, it's not biblical. If it's not love, it's not God. If it's not love, it's not Christian.
The Bible is about relationship love. God's not alone. He created us in His image so He could love us and we could love Him. Perfectly.
We are not, however, perfect, are we? We can't see as clearly as He sees. Our limits make us insecure, uneasy, suspicious, worried, hateful, less like God all the time. Our human nature makes us willful and selfish. We lose faith, lose trust, lose our ability to love perfectly.
This week's proverb is in chapter 10, verse 12:
Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)
Hatred creates conflict between people, and between us and God. Hatred separates and hurts. Sometimes we hate ourselves, sometimes we hate difference, sometimes we hate the world, sometimes we hate God. Sometimes we hate them all at once, eaten up with hate.
Love covers all offenses. Love covers them from sight, ignores them, or forgives them. Love is big enough for all offenses...no one is too offensive for God's love, and no one is outside God's forgiveness.
We have a hard time loving like God, though. We want to judge and punish, we want to exact revenge, we want to hold tight to grudges and grumbles and old hurts and new wounds.
On the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive his executioners, for they know not what they do.
You are a beloved child of God, and He will cover you.
Free will, however, means that we can't control what others feel or do. When others stir up strife with hate, making relationship impossible, we are not called to be doormats. Jesus chose his servanthood, and we aren't called to servitude or slavery. We are called to love justice (if laws have been broken, pursue right justice) and to pray for and forgive those who harm us, however hard it is, and however long it takes.
But if we love the God of Love, we know that He has plans for us to prosper. Sometimes, to love we have to remove ourselves from harm, take the opportunities God provides for good in our lives, for love.
God's got it covered.
Where in your life are you holding onto those old hurts or new wounds, where could you cover offenses with love to renew and restore relationship love? Have you ever had a relationship broken beyond repair in a broken world? How can God's love cover your wounds without the broken human relationship being restored?