Last week we looked at putting on compassion, which sees others through the eyes of love. “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.” (Col 3:12-13)
Then Paul showed us that love is “an even better way” (1 Cor 12:31). “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.” (Col 3:14-15) Love is the supreme attribute, and supersedes all other attitudes.
My Bible study group is studying the Beatitudes. Trust me when I tell you that looking into my own poorness in spirit, culminating in mourning my sin, and then looking at my lack of meekness has been like a bucket of ice cold water poured upon my head. I have been so prideful!
But instead of looking at others and seeing their faults, I’m learning to see others with the compassion of Jesus. “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (Matt 9:36-38)
Today, I’m drawn to Peter’s account of love: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet 4:8) To “cover” sin is to forgive it, and forgiveness is associated with love. The best example of a love that covers sin is Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” says it all (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ bearing of our iniquities was an undeniable act of love (Rom 5:8; 1 Jn 4:10). In fact, Jesus did more than just cover our sin; He did away with it completely (Heb 10:12-14).
In today’s Scripture the apostle is talking about interpersonal relationships. As believers we are to reflect the love of God by forgiving others. Jesus told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Paul tells us that love “does not keep an account of a wrong suffered” (1 Cor 13:5). When we love each other, we are willing to forgive each other. Love covers sin in that it is willing to forgive.
Love also covers over a multitude of sins in that it does not gossip about sin. Rather than share the offenses of our brothers and sisters in Christ with anyone who will listen, we exercise discretion and restraint. God’s Word instructs us on the appropriate way to confront others in love. Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6).
Today’s text in context shows us what the Lord considers important, especially in these end times. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Pet 4:7-9) We are to control our emotions, love one another earnestly, forgive one another, and be hospitable out of love, not duty.
What comes through to me is to be a cheerful giver of love. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:6-7)