Monday, July 1, 2013
Does Love Cover A Multitude of Sin?
I've never really understood the verse “love covers a multitude of sins”. It just never made any sense to me. When I hear the verse I kind of wince. But then I feel bad because it’s scripture.
Recently, a friend who was going through big challenges referred to this verse and I once again winced inside, but outwardly responded with a text of Amen.
Like many things that don’t set right in my spirit, I kind of just pass it up to God and move on. Eventually, I know he will reveal to me what things mean or why I felt a certain way. Sometimes it is my flaw in thinking while other times there really was something wrong and that is why I felt uneasy.
Today, I sat down to read 1 Peter 4. God had led me to a part of this passage for a friend the day prior. I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out what the scripture was about as a whole. As I was reading I came to that all familiar verse in 1 Peter 4:8. But I almost missed it because I was reading it in the KJV. A side note is that I grew up with many translations but 5 years ago I switched to the KJV after reading some stunning evidence on why it is the Bible we should be reading. Anyway, the reason I almost missed it was because it is worded differently. It says, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” I grew up hearing it said like this, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Those 2 passages DO NOT say the same thing.
Let’s look at the background of this letter. Peter is writing this letter to the scattered believers. It is not only a letter of encouragement for the believers but a letter of instruction on how to live in this world. He talks of Christ’s suffering and how we should respond to our own suffering. He talks much about the trials and the persecutions we face. In chapter 4 Peter’s focus is on living for the will of God as opposed to the way we used to live, which was to the will of the flesh (vs. 2). He also mentions how people will think we are strange because we don’t do as they do and they will speak evil of us (vs. 4). They may judge us unjustly but we still need to live how the Sprit tells us to live (vs. 6).
Now the scripture seems to take a bit of a turn. He was talking about how to deal with outsiders and their judgment towards us and now he gets to the heart of living as a church body. He says in vs. 8, “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” It is like he is saying, “hey church… you get enough judgment and ridicule from your old friends and family, so how about you take it easy on each other!”
A closer look at the definition of love is to be pleased with. Being pleased causes you to have affection for someone or thing. In a nut shell, you please me by something you do or how you look and I love you. A closer look at charity combines love with good will and to think favorably of your fellow men and do them good. In a nut shell, whether we are pleased or not we can show charity to others.
Charity notices the best in people. It bears their burdens (Gal. 6:2) and forgives them (Eph 4:32). Keep in mind that this passage was not directed towards the pagan or the idolaters but the believers. We are to give this special charity to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let’s put this in practical terms. In Gen. 9 we read the story of Noah and how he got drunk (Gen. 9:21). Ham, his son thought this sin funny and ran and told his 2 brothers about it (Gen. 9:22). Instead of going and gaping and laughing at their drunk and naked father, Shem and Japheth walk in backwards and cover him up with a garment (Gen. 9:24). I am sure all 3 brothers loved their dad. But because of what Shem and Japheth did by showing charity, they were blessed. Unlike them, Ham was cursed.
We are all going to mess up. We all have our struggles. Some are out in the open and others are hidden behind closed doors. The question is will we show each other charity? When we do…it covers the multitude of sin.
What is cover anyway? Cover is to pardon or remit. Remember, Charity is looking for and noticing the best in others. Charity acted out is overlooking those little annoyances we have towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s pardoning them for their moments of stupidity and going beyond love when we are not pleased with them.
So where did my original topic go?
Prov. 10:12 says “Hatred stirs up strife but love covers all sin.” According to many commentaries Solomon is here showing the pardoning love of the grace of God. The wicked hate and stir up strife but those who imitate God will show the sinner the way to the real covering of all sin… Christ’s blood!
So yes, love does cover all sin. Christ’s love.