“Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
“ABOVE ALL.” Love is the preeminent virtue. Let’s excel in it. “HOLD UNFAILING.” If you don’t know what to do in a situation, ask, “What would love do?” Paul already told us that “love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8). Hey, I could succeed every time–by loving!
“YOUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.” This is one of 59 “one anothers” in the Bible. Peter directs our love toward people, toward “one another.” Pretty simply–not always easy.
“SINCE LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.” Peter learned how to live above offense, covering rather than correcting. Some people feel an obligation to uncover the sins of others. Peter recommends the opposite. Unoffendable people are non-judgmental, easy to live with, full of understanding. People who cover sins are full of grace rather than trying to make people feel guilty, like I sometimes did as a young man when preaching.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love…” (Proverbs 17:9). It takes the power of the Spirit to be consistently unoffendable. Solomon also wisely said, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12). One more: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). People who need to comment on every offense are really busy getting offended. Takes a lot of time to be offended, less time to cover them.
Paul calls us to “lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). To forbear is to endure, refrain from. People who forbear keep their mouth shut. Some open theirs with every grievance. They don’t have a clue about unoffendable love.
.know that they need forgiveness, so they extend it to others
.show the love of Christ to those who don’t deserve it
.are champions of grace, which makes them fun to be around
.choose to look past peoples’ faults to their future
.put courage in (while others are draining it out)
.know that mercy triumphs over judgment
Jesus was full of grace and truth, but what rubbed off on people was grace: “Of his fulness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Amazing that the Holy One of Israel saw into the depths of the human heart and yet beamed out grace and covered over offenses. Two examples: when the woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned, Jesus was declaring, “Neither do I condemn you.” The one Man who could have sent her into a Christ-less eternity lifted guilt and shame with one personal proclamation.
Another woman may have felt shame when Jesus revealed her brokenness: “You have had five husbands…” By the end of the conversation she was drinking from living water, feeling acceptance from the Prophet of Israel. Her vulnerability back in town brought the single most effective evangelistic campaign of Christ’s earthly ministry, because He chose to “cover a multitude of sins.”
Broken people expect shame when they mess up. They are surprised when grace is extended instead of judgment. It’s hardest (and best) to do with the people we know–parents, siblings, children, bosses, co-workers. What would it be like if both spouses were unoffendable?