The Covering

by Lea Lewis


And above all things have fervent love among you: For love shall cover the multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

Most Christians know this Scripture. They know that God is love and therefore they too should follow His example and love as He does. Love is above all other things. It is pre-eminent. It is crucial and mandatory if we are to walk in the footsteps of our Lord. We have all met Christian brothers and sisters that we deeply admire and earnestly love. They are the ones who best show us the love of Christ. They have gentle and humble spirits and do not critically judge the brethren, but instead graciously encourage and edify them. Following Christ's example, "a bruised reed they do not break." (Isaiah 42:3) It is easy to love those who have Christ-like qualities. It is easy to love those who are so dear and lovely, but what about the less desirable brethren among us. Those who clearly have a long way to go on the path of sanctification. The ones whose names may be written in The Lamb's Book of Life, but are not found on the same page as we are. Those Christians who still have many of the world's rough edges. Believers who have not memorized many Scripture verses or go to Bible study or even attend church. Believers who still struggle with sin in their lives. Not just the "run-of-the-mill" sins of gossiping, or being the tattler of little white lies, like most church goers, but those really ugly types of sins. Sins of addition to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or maybe other sins that are so horrible that to even acknowledge them out loud would make any self-righteous saint of God blush!

These are believers who do not want to live lives of rebellion, but having been overcome by their sins they now struggle to be set free from Satan's grasp. Surely some of our brothers and sisters are being held in Satan's grip and as much as they pray and as hard as they struggle they remain in bondage. It is not that they don't believe in Jesus and that "He who the Son sets free is free indeed." (John 8:36) They know that is true, yet they are still in the battle and have not yet attained the victory. You know the kind of Christians I'm talking about. We all know some that fall into that category. So,my question is, what do we do with them? Do we see them as stains within our Christian community? Do we uncover their sins to the Body of Christ for rebuking? How long should we put up with them? What if our association with them tarnishes our own sterling reputation?

Well, according to 1 Peter 4:8, it is stated that, "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves: For love shall cover the multitude of sins." So above all things we are to love them. We are to love, not only those who are admirable within the family of God, but also the unlovely. I am not talking about those who openly live in rebellion and defiance, with no desire for repentance, but those who are considered misfits and outcasts and with Godly sorrow, struggle to be set free. We are to be patient, long suffering, and kind. We are to bear all things and hope all things, and like our Heavenly Example, "never leave them nor forsake them." (Hebrews 13:5)

What would be the result if we loved this way? The Scripture goes on to say if we have this kind of love, then our love shall cover the multitude of sins. If we truly love our brethren we will not want to publicize their sins to the world so that unbelievers can make a mockery of them and of our Lord. Instead our love will protect them when they are at their worse. Our love will comfort them in their struggles. This is how we shall be known as His disciples, because we shall love our brethren.

If we are to broadcast their sins, shortcomings, and failures, leaving them naked for other Christians and the world to see, we not only do them a disservice, but ourselves as well. For when we don't cover our brethrens sin with love, not only do we expose their sins, but our sins as well. Love shall cover "the" multitude of sins. Theirs and ours'.

When we speak out about the lack of discipline our brother may exhibit, are we not also showing our lack of discipline to control our tongue? If we speak out about someones greed and their abundance of worldly possessions, could we be exposing our own sin of jealousy that they have more than we do? If we say, "so-and-so" does not read their Bible or attend church, is our sin of self-righteousness showing? When we criticize and belittle others for not being as spiritually mature as we are, is it not our sin of pride that is showing? When we expose a brother who is trapped in some sort of addiction, could it be our lack of compassion being exposed? Perhaps we have never been tested and tempted as fiercely as this so-called "weaker" brother. How would we fair if we were? Shouldn't we express with humble thanksgiving that, "but by the grace of God, there go I?" Are we so pure and faultless that we can put the spot-light on our brother's sins and expect our own to remain hidden in the shadows? Whenever we bring to light the sins of our brethren are we not showing our own lack of humility? Are we not like the Pharisee who, in his spiritual pride, thanked God that he was "not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican?" (Luke 18:11) Remember we told that it was the humble publican who was justified and not the Pharisee: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:14)

Moses, the humblest man of all, approached God not with a tongue of criticism for his fellow Israelites, but with meekness, love, and tenderness of heart, besieging the Lord fervently on their behalf. He would rather have his name blotted out of the Book of Life with his brethren then to go on living without them. That is true love. That is love that is capable of covering the multitude of sins.

Jesus endured an excruciatingly painful death on the cross rather then to go on living without sinful you and sinful me. His perfect love and precious blood did more then just cover our sins; it completely washed them away and removed them as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) He expects us to follow His example of sacrifice and love and has given us the beautiful privilege of allowing our love to be a type of covering for our brothers sins. When we cover the sins of our fellow Christians with a heavy blanket of love we also keep our own sins in check too. For he who is without sin let them cast the first stone, and whoever says he has no sin is a liar and the truth is not in him. To expose the sins of others is to expose our sins as well.

Were there times you wanted a brother's sin to be exposed? Perhaps you thought his sins needed to come out into the light to "straighten him out," or maybe you thought he deserves a strong rebuke. Well, maybe he does and then again, maybe you do. Only God can see into the soul of a man. Only God can know his heart. Be careful, Christian, because when you uncover the sins of another, you will find that at the same time you will be exposing your own sinfulness as well. Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. So, be merciful, be kind, be forgiving, and above all things have fervent love; above rebukes, reproaches, corrections, warnings, and judgments. First and foremost, above all things have fervent love: For love shall cover the multitude of sins; theirs and ours.

- by Lea Lewis