“I wonder what in the world I am going to do!” my grandmother said. And it was jest. She was not going to do anything. She was looking at the mess of paper clippings heaped up in humps of graffiti all over the floor. I loved to cut up paper when I was little and the Sears catalog suffered its demise in my small hands and rounded scissors. Small wonder I did not get scolded! But instead of trouble, the small offense brought the wonderful pleasure that takes charge when an act of destruction is deemed precious because of granny love. “Love covers all offenses.”
Love caused a contradictory response to my mischief by my grandmother. It was contradictory to what might be deserved when one intentionally makes a mess. But it is more difficult to respond to someone who intentionally makes mischief especially if it includes violence against you!
“The words of the faithful are a life-giving fountain but the words of the wicked cover up their own intended mischief” (my paraphrase v11). “Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12 CSB).
Loving my grand-baby is easy; but loving my enemies is unimaginable! It feels wrong when Jesus says, “Love your enemies”. I confess I do not know how to do that; and complicating any effort to try — my feelings get in the way every time I feel threatened. But because I believe in Jesus, what I believe about this is this: to love a soul would be to weep in my heart at my enemies mischief; and it would transform what I would say and how I would say it in response. It would be like a fountain of life. But “I wonder what in the world I am really going to do!”
On one occasion the disciples wondered out loud about not being able to cast out a demon (Mark 9:28). They wondered why they couldn’t do it! Jesus answered, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29 NASB95). It is not too farfetched to reckon that the violence of an enemy compares to a real demon. I guess I better do a lot of praying these days before I say anything.
Matthew 5:43–45 (NASB95): “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven….”
Note: (“Mischief” is deemed to be the best translation of the word in Proverbs 10:11 by The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, a 17 volume Hebrew dictionary; and “violence” is a common translation).