One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. In it, Paul gives us examples of what love "is" and what love "isn't. This paints a picture for us of what godly love really is:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
While reading this chapter recently, I noticed in verse 7, Paul mentions what love "ALWAYS" is. Always means it should be unchanging, should not falter, and is connected deeply in our relationship with Christ:
(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:7
The Greek word for “protects” is stegei, which literally means “to cover”. And interestingly enough, we have an example of protection (covering) that comes from godly love in the story of Noah:
And Ham the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his brothers outside. But Shem and Japeth took a garment, and laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:22,23).
While Shem and Japeth "covered" or "protected" their father, notice how Ham exposed his father's nakedness (sin). He was more pleased to bring shame on his own father, than to protect and honor him.
Unfortunately for Ham, his action resulted in a curse. And not just a curse on Ham himself but on the nation of Canaan, as Ham is "The Father of Canaan":
Then he said: Cursed be Canaan a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren. And he said: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japeth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem and may Canaan by his servant (Genesis 9:25-27).
Ham sinned against his father, and brought judgement against his entire lineage. But his brothers, Shem and Japeth, were blessed by the Lord. God blesses those who are righteous, whose hearts are after God's, and whose character is a refection of Him. God has revealed Himself to us as a protector:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. - Psalm 91:4
The "heart of the matter" is... our hearts. It's how we protect and preserve each other. It's how we lift up and restore and trust that even in the midst of sin that God is GOOD and FAITHFUL to us, and that in turn, we should reflect that love to others. As Christians, we are to be a reflection of the heavenly love of Christ in a fleshly world. And while we can experience God's love in our sinful state, we can only reflect a tiny fraction of the overwhelming glory and love of God.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12
When we act out of godly love towards one another, our hearts should always be to honor one another. Even when someone falls into error, rather than exposing, mocking, and belittling them, our hearts should be to warn them and pray for restoration. Our prayers should be for God to keep them and bring them close to Him. Their shortcomings and sin should not be aired publicly so that humiliation is brought upon them. If we are so quick to go down the path of Ham, then we face the curse of Canaan.