Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8
When the Bible says, “Above all” or “first of all”, it’s talking about God’s priority. And God’s priority is that we keep fervent in love for one another. Some people think that Christianity is an orthodox doctrine, really it’s not how orthodox you are. It’s not how high you jumped when you’re saved, it’s how straight you walk when you come down is the real issue. And the only way to walk in the Christian life is to love. The New Testament summed up the greatest commnadment as loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength and body, and everything about us, and we love our neighbor as thyself. The word ‘fervent’ here is not the word for heat, or excitement or warmth. It’s a word for a strained muscle for a guy who’s pressing towards the mark. It’s a word for a racehorse as you see those tremendous muscles stretched out, and popped in strength. I think what it says is, it is of the utmost priority that you actively exercise your love for one another. That’s the idea. You see, it’s one thing to sit back in the church pew and say, “Oh, how i love Jesus” and “Oh, how i love you”, and it’s quite another to be actively involved in loving people in their lives where they need you in praying for them, and caring for them. Many Christians are characterized by a false sense of piety; they say, “Hello, how are you doing? We’re glad to see you. We love you and we’ll pray for you”, but deep inside is it’s just a bunch of baloney. But there’s another church that says “We love you. What can we do for you? We’re going to be with you in this. We’re going to walk with you through this problem. We’re going to love you whatever it takes.”, and that’s the church of the living God!
Why should we keep fervent our love for one another? “…because love covers a multitude of sins.” And why would love cover a multitude of sins? There are three possibilities. First of all, we’ve heard that same thing in James 5:20 where it seems to be talking about that love covers a multitude of sins, not of the person that is doing the loving, but the person that is loved as we bring him back to the Christian faith. The one drawn back to the fellowship, his multitude of sins will be covered. Another possibility might be this, what was preached by two early church fathers, Tertullian and Origen, as they preached that love covers a multitude of sins, meaning, that as we love as Christians, the very fact that we love in a self-giving way, the very fact that we respond with the mind of Christ, covers our own sins. I think they got that idea in Matthew 6:14-15 in the closing portion of the Lord’s prayer where it says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (cf. Mark 11:25). So Tertullian and Origen picked up a very dominant New Testament theme that we are forgiven as we forgive, and therefore it’s possible that “love covers a multitude of sins” means that as we love others, God is able to forgive us. A third possiblity is found in Proverbs 10:12 where it says, “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions”. What this means is that as we are hurt by people in our church, or when people are unloving to us, or when people get on our nerves, let us first consider what if they had just a bad week, or we have said something wrong that burst their bubble and they explode in our face. You know, because of the tensions or the problems of the day, or the needs of the moment, people tend to get uptight, we need to overlook that and forgive people’s faults as we love them and as of course, they forgive our faults. I think that as we forgive each other’s faults in the Christian faith, we’re able to overlook sins done against us. It always amazes me that we’re so picky about other people when we ourselves have so many terrible faults in our life. I think it’s just a sign of self-righteousness when we think that we’ve arrived and have the ability of judge other people’s fruits. Don’t be a nitpicker. You’ll get into trouble doing that. Just realize that God is the Judge, and we must love and accept people. Reprove them of their wrong lifestyle, but love them with no strings attached.