“When you have been sinned against you have two options: to either lovingly cover or lovingly confront.” (Jim Newcomer)
But how do we know the right option?
Yes, some offenses require repentance before granting forgiveness, but there are other offenses that must be overlooked if we are to survive in any relationship (1 Peter 4:8; Prov. 10:12; 12:16; 19:11). But when to do what?
Here are some questions to ask to help us decide if we are to “cover” or “overlook” an offense.
1. What is my tendency? If I tend to default to confrontation, have I pushed myself harder to cover? If my tendency is to cover, have I sufficiently considered the need to confront?
2. Am I just trying to avoid confrontation? If my motive is primarily to avoid unwanted confrontation, then covering may simply be the easy option, not the right one.
3. Am I just trying to avoid addressing problems on my side? I may be motivated to cover rather than confront, if confronting would mean addressing faults on my side too.
4. How important is this? If the offense is small enough, we may overlook?
5. How clear is this? If my grievance is more about personal preferences and cultural norms than clear moral right and wrong, then overlooking is the right choice.
6. Does the person show a pattern of this kind of behavior? If it’s just a one-off and out-of-character, then it is easier to cover than if this has become a regular habit.
7. Will overlooking the fault hurt or damage the other person? Am I doing the person more harm than good by failing to help them address moral failings.