“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” – 1 Peter 4.8From Sam Lomas:
There are a number of verses about love in the Bible that penetrate deeply into our hearts. I believe the verse above is one of them. The Greek word that has been translated into our English Bibles as “deeply”, or in some translations “earnestly”, is ektenē. It is a word that ancient Greek writers would use to describe an athlete who is trying really hard to win the race. Just think Mo Farah’s calf muscles in full strain on the final lap of a race. That’s how “deeply” or “earnestly” we are to show love to one another. Even when it begins to hurt, or cause us difficulty. That is the imagery of love we have here.
The context of this verse, and Peter’s letter as a whole, is that he is providing believers with instructions for living godly lives in a time of suffering. Particularly, the suffering of persecution. But still, this teaching may resonate in any time of suffering. In times of hardship, we are to prioritise the showing of love to each other. Why? Because love covers over a multitude of sins.
But whose sin? Mine or yours? Or is it the sin of those doing the persecuting?
Well, in short: everyone’s sin.
As followers of Jesus, the love we have is meant to forgive sin again and again. Have you been grieved or hurt by the sinful actions of others? This verse is a challenge to love that person. In doing so, you cover over their sin.
Peter’s encouragement for us to “love each other deeply” comes from someone who has himself experienced the deep love of Christ. Peter’s own sin, including denying knowing Jesus, was covered by the love of God and led to his restoration by Jesus in John 21.
Now, Peter has learnt from his own experiences and wants you and me to understand the importance and power of love that overcomes and covers sin. But what does this kind of deep love look like in action? It could present itself in many ways, but here are three examples:
- Firstly, I think the kind of love urged by Peter here is the love experienced in forgiveness. When we either seek or show forgiveness to others we are performing an act of love just like our Heavenly Father has shown you and me.
- Second, it might be the kind of love whereby you seek to bring comfort and peace to someone who has done you wrong.
- Finally, this deep love could be the kind of love that just keeps on going even when it hurts. If you are currently showing someone love that hurts, know that the Lord sees you and is with you on that journey. Remember, the Lord has experienced love that hurts when his own son died on the cross to cover a multitude of sins.