A Wise Proverb
“Where there is one covering over hatred there are lips of falsehood, and the one bringing forth a bad report is stupid.”—Prov. 10:18.
Many of the proverbs contain a contrast that helps to make clear what is right or wise. But Proverbs 10:18 has two parts that carry a similar idea, the second reinforcing the first. Together they offer insight into God’s thinking and guide us in the right way.
First, we read “where there is one covering over hatred there are lips of falsehood.” Here is a basic truth. If a man has hatred in his heart for another, his concealing that behind sweet words or flattery is really deceit, is it not? Like an individual putting on a false front, his lips express falsehood.—Prov. 26:24.
Rather than conceal a hate, some persons do what the second part of the proverb mentions. They “bring forth a bad report.” Their malice leads them to attempt harm by false accusations or disparaging comments intended to cause others to think less of the hated one. “Stupid” this certainly is. The slanderous “bad report” does not really change what the other person is. Rather, the slanderer is simply marked for what he is; perceptive persons think less of him because of his course. So, instead of harming the other person, the slanderous hater hurts himself.
What is right and wise is to shun both of those alternatives. God told the Israelites: “You must not hate your brother in your heart.” And Jesus extended the point, counseling: “Continue to love [even] your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens.” (Lev. 19:17; Matt. 5:44, 45) It admittedly is not easy to root out hatred that may have developed, but is that not better than leaving there what might lead to hypocritical falsehood or to stupid slander? And when we rid ourselves of malice, we move closer to God’s image.