What do you think of when you hear the phrase “cover-up”? Most of us immediately think of some government agency trying to hide its wrongdoing from us by manipulating the truth or hiding information in order to avoid being found out. But did you know there is a cosmic cover-up? In a word, it is LOVE!
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Peter is telling us that the cosmic cover-up is LOVE. Now, when you read this verse in its context, you’ll see that it is highly unlikely that Peter is pointing to the love of God in Christ Jesus that covers our sins with the blood of the Lamb. No, Peter is instructing us in the love we are to have for one another that will, by God’s cosmic grace, cover a multitude of sins.
Notice that Peter is talking about sin—not a mistake or a misstep, but sin. So, the first truth we must absorb is that we sin against each other. That’s fairly easy for most of us to take in; it gets a little more uncomfortable when we move on to the next level of understanding: Because we are sinners, love can—and often does—mean confronting someone in that love.
But there’s an even deeper layer to this truth! I believe that Peter’s major point is that a Christ-like love will refuse to bring up the past in order to bury someone in the present. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that when God forgives our sins, He removes them as far from us as the east is from the west; He promises to remember them no more and He will not remind us of them ever again. Satan, on the other hand, is constantly trying to remind us of our sin, and frequently others will try to remind us as well . . . but God never will.
The love Peter is talking about is a love that forgives as God forgave us, refusing to remind others of their past actions, even those that were hurtful to us. It is a love that “keeps no record of wrongs,” as Paul wrote in the famous “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. It is a love that gives—freely and without reservation—the same kind of grace to others that we have received from God.
The key is to remember how God chooses to deal with us and to intentionally choose to deal with others in the same way. Love will cover a multitude of the messed-up things that others have done to us.
Now, let me be clear that this does not mean that we are to accept any kind of behavior others deliver to us. If, for example, you have a friend who is prone to exaggeration or even outright lies, you should lovingly confront that person. If they persist in this behavior, and refuse to change their sinful behavior, you should avoid them. Continue to pray for them, yes, and continue to love them, but move forward without them. There are times when biblical love must be as tough as it is tender. (Our Lord spoke directly and specifically about how to confront a Christian brother or sister who is engaging in sin in Matthew 18:15-17.)
But in order to be effective in applying the cosmic cover-up to the lives of others, we must always consider Christ’s cosmic cover-up in our own lives. Remember, in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask our heavenly Father to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” If we are sincere when we pray that prayer, we will love as Christ loves and forgive as Christ forgives . . . regardless of the cost.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!