“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”
for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’
“Cover” carries the idea of conceal, to veil, to cover over. God expects us to hide the sin of others so that no one can see a trace of their sin. This is not our personal sin but the sin of our fellow Christian.
Fervent love orients us to forgive and forget wrongs committed against us. We readily cover their sin against us. We will not aggravate the wrong by spreading gossip around the Christian community. When we do not publish the failings of others, we eliminate a lot of gossip. A gossiper does not love; it hurts others. True love does not hint at past failure.
“Multitude of sins” indicates a mass of sins that has come to the notice of a particular Christian because of some special personal contact. Do you have a unique association out of the loop with God? This passage forms a principle for how to deal with them.
Jas 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
The phrase “love will cover a multitude of sins” is a quote from Proverbs 10:12,
“Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.”
Sacrificial love protects the reputation of fallen Christians.
True love is blind to the faults of others. Do you drag the problems of your fellow Christians into the open so that all can see? This will hurt their reputation. By protecting fallen Christians and seeing them as Christ sees them, we encourage and strengthen each other.
Some of us think that God commissioned us to expose the sin of others. Instead of covering their sin, we advertise their sin. There is a sadistic glee in this. A true family protects its own. They cover up for their loved ones because they love each other. This is a missing element in the church of the living God (codependency notwithstanding).
Many Christians hold little interest in covering the sins of fellow believers. We have a great interest in protecting our sins. We would instead hide our sins than confess them (1 Jn 1:9). God wants us to make a clean-cut break with sin. If we rationalize our sin away, we will not deal with our personal sin. This is like an alcoholic who will not admit he is an alcoholic. He will not address his alcoholism until he admits that alcohol controls his life. We will not address the sin of our lives until we confess our sins. Our natural tendency is to cover our sins and expose the sins of others.
An environment of love among Christians helps sustains believers under persecution. Love cannot endure indifference. All of us need to be wanted and understood. Hate does the opposite. Some people snoop about to find some sin in someone else and then broadcast it over their personal network. They may even exaggerate their sin and gloat over the sin.
We often slight Christians who fail. We eliminate a lot of gossips when we cover the sin of fellow Christians. Gossip does not truly love others. If we ask someone to spread feathers around the neighborhood and go pick them up a week later, this would be an impossible task. It is also an impossible task to retrieve gossip spread around the community.
Love forgets as well as forgives. Love does not keep hinting at past failures. Love is willing to hide the sin of others in an anonymous grave. Who is without fault? If we attack others, this implies that we are innocent of sin.
Covering the sins of others, on the other hand, does not imply that we condone their sin (Prov. 28:13). We should deal with public sin publicly, and we should deal with private sin privately. Nor does covering sin imply that Christians do not confront their sin.
Do you have a passion for bringing stray believers back to fellowship with God? Do you love people as they are, faults and all? Would you instead proclaim their failures from the housetop?