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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Besides, this sentence concerning love is derived from Proverbs 10:12, where the antithesis clearly shows how it ought to be understood: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” It teaches precisely the same thing as the passage of Paul from Colossians, that if any dissensions occur, they should be moderated and settled by equitable and lenient conduct. Dissensions, it informs, increase because of hatred, as we often see that tragedies arise from the most trifling offenses. Certain trifling offenses occurred between Gaius Caesar and Pompey, in which, if the one had yielded a very little to the other, civil war would not have occurred. Because each indulged his own hatred, great commotion arose from a matter of no account. Many heresies have arisen in the Church merely from hatred of the clergy. So, we understand that this teaching does not refer to a person's own faults, but to the faults of others. When it says, “Love covers all offenses,” it means the faults of others. When these offenses happen, love overlooks, forgives, yields, and does not carry all matters to the extreme of the law’s justice.
Pulling It Together
If 1 Peter 4:8 or Proverbs 10:12 are thought to mean that love covers up one’s own sins, that would be a misinterpretation. We have already seen how Paul deals with the text (Col 3:12), so notice how James interprets the Proverb in the same way. “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). The transgressions that are cloaked or forgiven here are not one’s own. Rather, because we are determined to love as Christ loves, we overlook offenses against ourselves.
Think of how often the smallest spark of some perceived offense in a congregation is fanned into flame by someone who chooses to make the matter personal. That person begins to talk behind the back and even posts about the affront in social media in order to make the matter everyone’s business. Now it is thought that because others are also concerned, the petty behavior was justified. This is the moment when some people give up on the whole church, when it was the prideful act of an individual who took umbrage too far. This is not the way of Christ. Love overlooks the faults of others—real or imagined.
Prayer: Forgive me my trespasses, Lord, as I forgive the trespasses of others. Amen.
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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.