Love Covers a Multitude of Sins Peter is writing to churches in the province of Asia to encourage them during a time of difficulty
. In his short letter, he asks them three times to be self-controlled and alert. First, he asks them to “gird the loins of their minds and be sober” and later to be “selfcontrolled and alert” because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. Today, I want to look at the third statement, where Peter asks the Christians to be clearminded and self-controlled so that they can act properly, considering the end of all things is near. 1 Peter 4:7-8 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. The end of all things is near … One day, we will meet the one who made us. Sooner or later, we must all either cross the threshold of death or be ready for the return of Jesus. Here, Peter is talking about the end of all things, or the end of the world. 2 Peter 3:8-10 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. In 2 Peter, he writes that the elements will melt and the earth will be laid bare. The world as we know it will be gone forever, and all that will remain is our spirits. Jesus’ return is near at hand, writes Peter, because it could come at any time. Christians should expect it, and indeed look forward to His return! For Christians, the end of this world is not a bad thing. God did not intend for us to live in this world as we have experienced it so far. We are living in a world that is under a curse so that we suffer from the effects of sin: war, disease, strife, and poverty. But God has something better in store for humanity. The reason he hasn’t brought it back yet is because He is patient, waiting for as many to be saved as possible. Do you know why you will never be satisfied and at rest in this world? Because you were not made for this world! You were made to live with God in a new world.
Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray
If we know the end of all things is near at hand, what should we do? We should get ready. Peter encourages these Christians to clear their minds of distractions and to be mentally disciplined so that they can communicate with God and hear what He is telling them. We may be living a good life and not committing any big sin, but are nonetheless so distracted by our jobs or hobbies that we are missing what God is telling us to do. Luke 14:16-20 Parable of the Great Banquet We need to be ready to hear from God. This becomes more challenging as we get busy with life. If we are successful at our job, we need to make sure that we leave time to commune with God on a daily basis. If our business is doing well and growing, we need to be sure that we’re still listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is not saying we should ignore our spouses or relationships, but rather he’s warning against these things becoming distractions. Young people: Right now, you’re praying for a good career and a good spouse. That’s good, and you should pray that way. But don’t let those blessings become a snare to you. I love spending time with my family, but the danger is that it would be very easy for us to become wrapped up in our own insulated cocoon. We need to remember the time, that the end is near at hand. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Here, Peter says that no matter what else these Christians do, they should make sure to love one another fervently, earnestly, and intensely. Why is this so important? The Bible says that love is like the connective tissue that holds the parts of the body together. Without love, the church body will not be able to hold together and function. Love holds us together and builds us up. Love is like oil in an engine—it is absolutely essential. Each of us has different gifts, abilities, and passions. If we aren’t careful to love, we may become prideful of what God has given us and look down on those who do not have the same abilities or passions. We may think that what God has called us to do is the most important aspect of the church and devalue the work and calling of others.
Or, we may judge others on the points where we are strong, but they are weak. We may be able to control our tongue and always say the right thing—that’s great! But we should not look down on those who struggle with this or judge them. We may be excellent at serving others and love to work hard, but we should not look down on those who aren’t able to work for as long or as hard as we do. Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, but if we have love, we will work together to build one another up. Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Love looks out for the interests of the other person and seeks to share their burden. Without love the church would be like an engine without oil. Have you ever worked with someone who was always looking to promote themselves and make others look bad? Imagine working in a job where everyone was doing that. Wouldn’t you be miserable? Satan is the most miserable person in the universe. And misery loves company. When C.S. Lewis imagined demons working together in The Screwtape Letters, he used the illustration of a nasty government bureaucracy or business office where everyone is ready to pounce on the weakness of others. This is why Peter says that, above all else, we must love one another. This love does not come easily. We must allow the Spirit of God to work in us so that we love one another with His love, not our own. You cannot love everyone naturally, or love anyone perfectly. To have this perfect love, you need to make a willful decision to cooperate with God’s Spirit. That decision is like a seed planted in your heart, and God will cause that seed to grow up into a plant and bear fruit naturally. You can’t make the plant grow or bear fruit, but you can plant the seed. Read from Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom, Chapter 7, “Love Your Enemy” The love that Peter asks for is not an easy thing. It is not a cheap emotion like you get when watching a romantic drama or an exciting soccer game. This love costs something. 1 John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
God’s love is costly. Peter, Paul, and John all use a special word for love that is only found in the New Testament and Christian writing: Agape. Agape is the love that comes from God. It is a costly love. We owe one another this love. Romans 13:8-11 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. When we love one another, we fulfill the requirements of God’s law. We will not do them harm; instead, we will build them up. This love covers a multitude of sins and offenses that are certain to come. Satan wants to use these offenses as a way to destroy the church. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. Satan uses offenses and bitterness to destroy the church. None of us are perfect and we all make many mistakes, but love of God will protect us from the schemes of the enemy. We must be aware of what Satan’s plan is. Therefore love one another deeply. Conclusion Be clear-minded. Don’t be distracted by things in this world, but listen to God’s voice. Be ready to meet Him. Love one another as God first loved us. This is a costly love, but we can love this way with the help of the Holy Spirit.