How Does Love Cover Sins?
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4:8, NIV)
Have you ever pondered the above Scripture and asked yourself, “How does love cover sins?” I have, because I recognize that this is a SERIOUS matter. Families, marriages, businesses, churches—and sometimes people’s lives—are at stake.
Like you, I have heard this verse quoted many times in many pulpits—and out of the mouths of many believers discussing various issues at hand. To a person, however, it seems that they all have the same concept of how love “covers the multitude of sins.” Although the exact bent of each individual might vary a bit, you could sum up the popular opinion by rephrasing this passage, “Love sweeps things under the rug and refuses to deal with them…except maybe in prayer…but that’s about it.”
However, is that what the Holy Spirit was telling us to do in that verse? Is prayer the only recourse for a Christian when being confronted by the sins of another? Let me cite you a few biblical situations to illustrate the point that at least sometimes, you have to hold people accountable:
- Peter interrupted his church service at two different times to rebuke a Christian couple, Ananias and Sapphira (separately), regarding their lies and hypocrisy. These two believers subsequently dropped dead as God confirmed Peter’s condemnation of each. Ananias was judged for his deceitful actions and hidden agenda…and Sapphira for her misguided submission to her own husband in a wicked scheme. (Acts 5)
- Paul publicly rebuked his elder apostle, Peter (who actually mentored him for a short while during Paul’s own ministry training), when Peter disassociated from the Gentile converts to please religious Jewish converts who recently arrived from Judea. Paul explained why when he stated, “He [Peter] walked not uprightly according to the Gospel.” (Galatians 2:11-21)
- John, the “Apostle of Love” as he is often called, actually wrote a brother (Gaius) a letter that exhorted him to leave Diotrephes’ congregation because of that pastor’s wicked behavior. He then recommended Gaius attend Demetrius’ congregation instead saying, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.” (3John)
- Even the Lord Jesus (love Himself) entered the temple and created havoc as he threw over tables and freed animals, while rebuking the merchandisers for defiling God’s “House of Prayer.” Moreover, He whipped a few of them with a “scourge” he made from some small cords while he chastised them! (John 2:14-16)
There are many, many more examples I could list here—and I realize I kicked over a few extra “sacred cows” while I was listing these (but I’ll save further comments on those issues for other blogs). Nevertheless, with these few examples in mind let me ask you, does love “sweep sins under the rug” or is there something perhaps in our interpretation of 1Peter 4:8 (and similar verses) that has been terribly flawed?
It would seem that neither Paul, Peter, John—nor Jesus Himself—believed sins should be swept aside and ignored. Yet, most believers I have talked to seemed to adhere to an “ostrich” approach regarding walking in love towards others. Concerning this common “ostrich” approach to love: I have noticed (and experienced myself at times) that those who attempt to live this way generally experience failure after failure in their relationships…and bring upon themselves much anguish besides.
Consequently, I have re-examined our commandment from the Lord to “walk in love” in the light of the context of the entire Bible. After many years of study, trial, and error…I am pleased to say that I can now clearly explain from the Scriptures the correct way to apply these verses:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15, NKJV)
In the following articles of this series, I will share what Love Himself (God) has shown us within His Own Word about walking in love towards others. Yes, He—above anybody else—knows what is the proper way to actually “cover the multitude of sins” that we might fulfill the mandate given us in our opening passage from 1Peter 4:8.
Buckle up, stay tuned…and get ready for some eye-opening revelation.
Related post: How Does Love Cover Sins? (Part 2)