We would all agree that 1 Corinthians 13 is the chapter of love. In this chapter Paul teaches us what love looks like. He tells us that love is patient and kind. Love does not boast or envy, it is not prideful. Love bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things. We also see in this chapter that love is not a feeling; it is an action that we live out day after day as Christians. Love is also the fruit of the Spirit. The evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us is seen in the love we have for one another. If I do not have love, then I have nothing. If I do not have love, then what exactly is the point to this Christian life?
I have had brothers and sisters in the Lord tell me that they love me, but when something happens, or they disagree with some area of my life they disappear. I never hear from them again. We break fellowship and the love that they said they had for me is no longer present. To me, this is not love. At least not the love that God says we are to have for one another. According to Peter love should cover a multitude of sins. But what exactly does this covering of sins with love mean?
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”
1 Peter 4:8
1 Peter 4:8
First of all, Peter tells us that we are to have fervent love for one another. Fervent means to be stretched out. It means to be intent. It means to be strained to the point of breaking. It means to love with purpose. Loving people will require us to be stretched past our patience, and to be stretched past ourselves. Love begins where I end. When we want to say something unkind, love stretches forth and chooses to either say nothing, or to speak encouragement instead. Fervent love looks for reasons to see the best in people, and does not focus on the bad.
When God looks at us, He sees our sins, our failures, our guilt and our shame, but His love stretches forth and He chooses to see Christ through us, instead of the sin that remains. When we want to be first, fervent love stretches forth and says, let them take the spotlight instead of me. People may not always see the love that we have for them, but God sees and He is the only one that we should be striving to please.
Fervent love will also cover a multitude of sins. Does this mean we look away from sin? Does this mean when we see our fellow brothers or sisters caught in sin that we don’t say anything? Does this mean that we ignore the sins and offences that we have felt at their hands and just choose not to say anything? I don’t think that is what Peter is telling us. I think that fervent love that covers sins will not look away, but instead it will hinder the knowledge of that sin so that others never know anything about it. Does God proclaim your sins to the people around you? Or does He keep it between you and Him? He keeps it between the two of you. We, as His children, should be doing the same. Instead, however, we run to our neighbor and tell them what that person did to us, what they said, how they hurt us and their sins are proclaimed to everyone. Their sins are not covered, but exposed. Fervent love does not do this. God’s love does not do this.
When you cover something, you hide it, or you cover it up so that it cannot be seen by others. Think about the blood of Jesus for just a moment. Think about the love that He showed for us upon His cross. His love was seen in the sacrifice of the cross, in the suffering that He endured for our sakes. When God our Father looks upon us, He sees the blood of Jesus Christ. He sees the covering of that love that was shed abroad on the cross. The blood of Jesus covers and cleanses us from the sins that are hidden within our hearts. The blood of Jesus Christ is the sacrifice of His love covering a multitude of our sins.
Fervent love covers. Love sees a brother or sister in error and intentionally seeks them out. Fervent love says, “Let me show you God’s love through His word. Let me show you how to live pleasing to God. Let us walk fervent love out together.” Isn’t that what Jesus did? Didn’t He come to show us how to live pleasing to God? Doesn’t His love pour out from the cross and say to us, “Let My love cover you?”
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13: 7 that love bears all things. Love stretches forth and says I may not like or agree with what you are doing, but I love you too much to allow you to continue in it. Love is personal. It stretches forth into our hearts and changes us from the inside out. Love believes that people can change under the power of the Holy Spirit. But how can people change if they do not see the Holy Spirit loving them?
Fervent love endures. When no one else will take the time to show love, fervent love does. Fervent love strives for that person, that brother or sister in the Lord who may have fallen into error, who may have wronged you, fervent love will seek them out. Fervent love stretches and chases them down. Fervent love pursues those who are hurting, and those who have been hurt. Fervent love says “I love you” and no matter what happens, sticks with that person. Love stretches and never breaks under the pressure; it just keeps on loving- even when no one else will.
I think all of us at some point have run to another brother or sister in the Lord and told them about the offence that was done to us by the hands of another. We have ran to our pastor’s and leaders and told them about some offence that was done to us by another member of the body. But we never took the time to go to that person who caused the offence. When we run to others, we are not covering the sins, we are uncovering the sins and allowing them to be out in the open, and ruining the love that person might have for the one who caused the offence. Fervent love will not condemn, nor will it ever expose the faults of others. It will bear with those faults, forgiving and forgetting the offences, even if it hurts.
“As God with His love covers my sins if I believe, so must I also cover the sins of my neighbor.” (Martin Luther) Unfortunately, what I see more and more in the church today is not fervent love, but children of God running to our friends and telling them about all the things this person said and did to hurt us. Love that covers a multitude of sins will hinder others from knowing about the offence. It will not broadcast to others how badly that person is behaving; it will not look upon them in condemnation and judgment, but will cover their wrongs, just as Christ has covered ours.
I myself have been a victim of someone running to someone else about something I said or did, then when confronted by this person I am shocked that they knew about it before I did. I too, have spoken to others about the offences and hurts other have caused me instead of choosing to fervently love them. For this, I am humbled and ask for forgiveness.
Love will cover sins, not expose them. Love will always point people back to Jesus, the only One who can change them. When we see a brother or sister in a sin, or they have caused us pain, instead of running to someone else about it, we need to be running after them and showing them that love will cover a multitude of sins. In this we will show them the Love of Jesus Christ, which is what we have been called to do.
Father God, I pray today that whoever reads these words will see and understand the fervent love we are to have for one another. You have shown us what true love looks like by taking upon our sins and nailing them to the cross. Your love covers the multitude of our sins, and I pray that today, as Your children, we too would begin to offer the same sacrifice to others. May our hearts seek to know Your love and may we seek to have fervent love that will cover a multitude of sins. To You alone be the glory, now and forever, amen and amen.