1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
In the first part of chapter 4 Peter addresses the challenges the early Christians experience relating to those outside the church. In verses 7-11 (part of which is copied above) Peter pivots to address how Christians are to relate with one another. Turns out the early Christians were no more perfect than you and me. They may have cared for one another, but they also got on each others nerves, offended one another, disagreed on things large and small. Here’s my favorite part of the passage:
“…for love covers a multitude of sins.”
Peter is saying that love has a way of overcoming the damage done when we sin against someone. The form of the verb “love” used in the original Greek language is “agape” – which is a form of self-sacrificing love. It’s loves that seeks to serve someone else, even if it comes at one’s own expense. It’s the kind of love Jesus so vividly demonstrated for us on the cross.
I don’t like it, I’m not proud of it, but there are times when I hurt people I care deeply about: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. And while I can’t make anyone forgive me when I’ve sinned against them, I can admit my mistakes and do my best to love them. And frankly, for some people, actions speak louder than words. It’s not that people don’t appreciate a verbal apology, but an act of apology can be much more effective.
Here are two questions we can ask of ourselves this morning:
- Who are the persons I have sinned against most recently?
- How might I “love” them in hopes of repairing the damage I’ve done?
Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus, you have forgiven us of so much. We can never repay your abundant grace, but we can do our best to admit our mistakes and love those to whom we do harm – intentionally or not. Help us to display even a small bit of the agape Jesus first showed us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.