I have a pet peeve when it comes to certain habits of my family members. I mean, how hard is it to recognise that the garbage bin is really full when surrounded by a moat of rubbish? And what an incredible mystery it is that at some magical point during the reign of garbage anarchy, an invisible force of order comes to carry the refuse away into oblivion! Heaven forbid that anyone should actually make the decision, all by themselves, that stacking the rubbish as high as a human is possibly not good practise, and choosing to remove it and – now, let’s not get too excited – replacing the bin liner might actually be the appropriate response!
It is so easy to point out people’s faults – especially if you happen to live with them! Anyone we get close to is easy to scrutinize. The trouble is, Jesus intended us to do life with one another, up close and personal, and still be known as people who love one another.
I often reflect on the story of Noah in Genesis 9. He had come through some major life events, building a boat, becoming a zoo keeper and surviving a devastating world-wide flood and now we find him enjoying a little bit too much of the vine resulting in stripping down to his birthday suit in a drunken stupor.
The responses of his sons echo throughout history. Ham discovers his father first, lying bare and exposed inside his tent. This is pretty personal space, but Ham was a son, and, as such, was permitted to be there. The first thing Ham does is to go and report his father’s humiliation to his brothers. His reaction was to expose his father’s short-comings to others.
This sharply contrasts to the behaviour of his two brothers, Shem and Japheth. They take a garment and hold it between them, walking backwards into the tent, so as to cover their father and preserve his dignity. Noah’s actions might have been beneath his character and reputation, but these sons had no intention of exposing them. He had fallen short, but Shem and Japheth would not exploit his humanity.
When Noah awakens, he learns of the different responses in his sons. He was gravely disappointed in Ham’s choice to expose and disrespect him and subsequently curses him. But Shem and Japheth he blesses. Ham would become a slave to the others.
This story challenges me so much! I think of all the ways I respond to the shortcomings of others in my world. There is a temptation to focus on the humanity of others and make judgements about them. If I’m to learn from Scripture, I need to make decisions to cover the failures of others.
1 Peter 4:8 tells us,
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Now love shouldn’t hide the illegal or ignore the immoral, but when it comes to the daily shortcomings of our lives, it is tremendously life-giving to be surrounded by people who choose to cover me. So, I’m compelled by love to cover others.
I encourage you, girls, choose to cover your husbands. Choose to cover your friends. Choose to cover each other. Let’s create a deep culture of dignity and respect, of graciousness and esteem. This kind of behaviour attracts blessing and favour and truly represents the love of our Heavenly Father who chose to cover us with the blood of Jesus so that none of our shortcomings would be exposed any longer.
I’m off to do some covering of my own – covering the trash before the cat tips it over! Maybe I could teach him how to replace the bin liner…