Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
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From little offenses to major ones, it’s easy to get our feelings hurt when we perceive someone has wronged us. Whether or not we have cause to be offended, when we take offense, our relationships can suffer. It’s as if we develop relational blind spots.
As hard as it is to admit, sometimes I’m easily offended. It’s easy to blame others when we get hurt, but the truth is, we have control over our emotions. And I can choose whether to feel offended.
I’ve learned to consider honestly whether I’m easily offended by asking the following questions:
- Do you find that your feelings are frequently hurt?
- Have people told you they feel as if they have to walk on eggshells around you?
- Are you constantly feeling annoyed?
- Do you frequently expect someone to apologize?
- Are you constantly repeating the words, “You hurt my feelings”?
Much like forgiveness is a choice, not being easily offended is also a choice.
There was a time when I had to make this choice at work. I was looking forward to a new hire coming on board. Unfortunately, from day one, she made comments toward me that left me feeling … well, offended.
As a result of both her actions and my response, we frequently butted heads, causing our team to be less cohesive than it could have been. One day, I learned that this woman had recently been injured. In that moment, I had to make a decision. Was I willing to extend grace to her despite how she had treated me? The choice was clear.
So, a colleague and I scrambled to take care of some things for her, and we picked up the slack during her recovery. A short while later, my boss asked me why I had helped this woman, despite the way she had treated me.
“Because love covers a multitude of sins,” I replied. This answer comes from 1 Peter 4:8. The Amplified Bible explains that this means love forgives and disregards the offenses of others.
While I had every reason to be offended, the Lord impressed upon my heart that I had an opportunity to be kind. As a result, the relationship improved so that it was more professional. I extended grace to her, treating her as I would want to be treated. I worked hard to let go of the offenses and integrate the words of 1 Peter 4:8 into my life. And it worked!
Jesus’ love through the cross has covered a multitude of our sins. Allow His grace to overflow out of that excess to those in your life who offend you.—Laurel Shaler1
First Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” In what way does love cover sin?
To “cover” sin is to forgive it, and forgiveness is associated with love. The best example of a love that covers sin is Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them,”2 says it all. Jesus’ bearing of our iniquities was an undeniable act of love.3 In fact, Jesus did more than just cover our sin; He did away with it completely.4
In 1 Peter 4:8 the apostle is talking about interpersonal relationships. As believers, we reflect the love of God by forgiving others. Jesus told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”5 First Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” When we love each other, we are willing to forgive each other. Love covers sin in that it is willing to forgive.
Love also covers over a multitude of sins in that it does not gossip about sin. Rather than share the offences of our brothers and sisters in Christ with anyone who will listen, we exercise discretion and restraint. …
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”6
Another way that love covers over a multitude of sins is choosing not to take offense at everything. Some sins against us are not worth confronting. Personal slights, snide or ignorant remarks, and minor annoyances can be easily forgiven for the sake of love. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” If we are patient, not envious or self-seeking, we are much less likely to even take offense. Acting in love means we put others before ourselves. Love can cover a multitude of sin in that, when we act in true love, we are prone to overlook minor offenses, tolerate the provocations, and forgive the sin.—From gotquestions.org7
Several years ago, a minister from the United States went to visit one of his denomination’s congregations in Africa. When he got up to the pulpit to preach, he noticed by the style of clothing that members of one of the local tribes sat in the front of the room while those from a different tribe seemed to be forced to sit in the back.
Knowing that there was much tribal animosity in the country, the minister scrapped his notes and began preaching about unity, how we are all one in Christ and how we are to love our spiritual brothers. After the condemning sermon, the visiting minister sat down and the local pastor leaned over to him and stated, “Our members sit in different sections out of love and respect for one another. In our culture, it is our way of showing honor to the visiting tribe by giving them the best seats in the church.”
Had the preacher not jumped to conclusions, he would have saved himself from humiliation and from offending the church members. While he might not have had the opportunity to ask why they sat apart before his sermon, he could have certainly done so afterwards.
How often do we make the same mistake in our relationships? How do you think your relationship is affected when you allow yourself to get bent out of shape over what appears to be a rude waiter, a slothful co-worker, an insensitive pastor or an uncaring mate?
Consider the following scenario.
You call your wife at home during your lunch break to ask her what she’s making for dinner. She snaps back: “I don’t know. Gotta run. Talk to you later.” Then she hangs up.
Instead of going the “Jumping to Conclusions” route, let’s play the “Benefit of the Doubt” game.
Could it be that:
- She is planning a surprise dinner for you and didn’t want you to know about it. She got flustered at your call, thinking you might be on to her.
- Little Johnny is throwing up on the Persian rug, lunch is burning on the stove, and someone is knocking at the front door.
- She has awful cramps, a blistering headache, and you woke her up from a much-needed nap.
- She is on the other line with a relative calling from Sri Lanka at $3 a minute.
When you arrive home you lovingly ask your lovely wife why she hung up on you so quickly. If her answer matches one of your “Benefit of the Doubt” possibilities, you win. If it doesn’t match, you still win because you didn’t sit in judgment of her all afternoon, brewing over the fact that she was a little curt. And best of all, you open a dialogue of communication so hopefully any misunderstanding doesn’t happen again.
My wife Athena and I like to play this game when we are out around town. We come up with some great explanations why the Toyota Landcruiser just cut us off in traffic, why the cashier practically ignored us and why our friends didn’t return our calls. Most importantly, we try to do the same when we are confronted with potential “Jumping to Conclusion” situations in our relationship.
Sure, we still fall back into our condemning and judgmental ways from time to time. But we are working at it.
If you find yourself regularly getting frustrated, angry, or even furious at others, it is possibly because you haven’t considered the benefits of doubting.—Another’s intentions!—Michael Webb
Familiarity can often get in the way of giving each other the benefit of the doubt, but it’s truly an act of love to be able to look at the heart and assume the best, rather than look at the actions and assume the worst or jump to conclusions. So try it, and don’t forget that “love covers a multitude of sins” even when mistakes are made!—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Published on Anchor March 2020. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by John Listen.
2 Luke 23:34.
3 Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10.
4 Hebrews 10:12–14.
5 John 13:34–35.
6 1 Corinthians 13:4–7.
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