1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Amazing. For a solid three chapters prior to this verse, Peter is discussing how we should live. Submitting ourselves to authority, abstaining from sinful behavior, husband/wife relationships, not to gossip…on and on. He talks about us being set apart – living lives that demonstrate that we are different from the rest of the world. And then there is this verse. Nestled in chapter 4 – so easy to miss. “Above all” – above all the other stuff. Love. That is so profound. It seems easy, but it is by far the most difficult task of all the instruction given in the four chapters I read today.
For love covers a multitude of sins. Meaning – people are going to sin. Against you. Love them still. You will be disappointed in others behavior. Love them still. The implication here is that you won’t want to love them. If love is covering a multitude of sins, you are probably dealing with the ramifications of that stuff. I can say from my own personal experiences that the choice to love someone you don’t even like is really really hard. It seems impossible actually.
So, why love? What difference can that possibly make? Why does that cover pain, hurt, rejection, anger, resentment and all the rest that result from sin? Because, when I consciously decide to love, I put myself in the other’s shoes. I try to see it from their angle instead of my own. Love isn’t sending flowers, a card or buying something sparkly (although, if my husband is reading this, those things do make me feel very loved). No, this word for love is agape – which I’m sure many of you have heard before. In his book “The Four Loves”, C.S. Lewis refered to this kind of love as selfless love, a love that is passionately committed to the well-being of the other. I think that pretty much sums it up. Caring about the well-being of the other person, regardless of what they’ve done to you is true love. Trying to see it from where they are sitting, being concerned with their view of the situation helps to switch my mindset and choose love.
Knowing about this kind of love is one thing. Demonstrating it to a difficult person is an entirely different matter. It is not something I can do in my own power. However, I know (because the Bible tells me so) that God wants me to love others in this manner. Above all else. More than all the exhortations in the first few chapters of 1 Peter – to love others is the biggest, most important idea. I wish this verse said “tolerate others” or “just try to get along”. I think I could probably do that. But the requirement to agape love just seems like too much to ask of me right now. I want to pout and say “but she was mean to me…I don’t want to”. God doesn’t give me that option. Showing His love to those I struggle with enables me to see past the pettiness of actions, and truly care about the heart of the matter. God loves them. I choose to love as well. I’m asking God to show me how…and I know He’s faithful and will do just that.