“He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 (NASB)
What might be our first thought when reading this verse for today? A cover-up? Such action does not seem to fit this context. Instead, this regards the manner in which we manage what we hear about others transgressions. Or, it regards how we respond when others offend us. It is the question of whether we turn it into gossip and spread the stories which though true, do no good for anyone. The repeating a matter has often separated friends by uncovering a forgotten quarrel. Harm might not be intended, but amusing ourselves with the follies or weakness of our Christian brothers and sisters is sinful trifling, fraught with injury. They are justly called “tattlers, busy-bodies, gossips” who revel in speaking things which they ought not. A disciplined tongue is a restraining mercy to the Church.
Let’s look at how other versions relate this proverb.
- Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends. (God’s Word Translation)
- Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. (Easy-to-Read Version)
- He who conceals an offense promotes love, but he who harps on it can separate even close friends. (Complete Jewish Bible)