I appreciate the “love” we give February. It’s such a hard month between the renewal of January and the hope of spring in March. If it weren’t for many of the important celebrations assigned, I fear it would be a dreary twenty-eight days to endure.
Thankfully, Valentine’s Day does fall smack dab in the middle, allowing us the chance to pull ourselves from the gray, cold weather to think about love. Of course, there is the chocolate-heart, celebrate-your-partner, life-sized-bear kind of love. But it’s also a great opportunity to focus on God’s love.
At the risk of sounding cliché, love is the central theme of all God is and does. As we try to live our lives in this tough, broken world, love serves two really important functions: (1) it can guide our decision-making, and (2) it can stand in the gap for sin.
This first function we will touch on only briefly. Listen for the wide net cast by this verse: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10 NIV). In short, this verse affirms that love, in its partnership with knowledge and insight, is the only hope we have of knowing the “right” thing to do in this complicated life.
The second function, which we will explore more thoroughly, is that love stands in the gap for sin. It did so quite literally when Jesus absorbed the penalty for our sin on the cross. And, It does in our human relationships as well. Let’s look at 1 Peter 4:8.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (NIV)
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” ( NKJV)
“Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (HCSB)
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (NRSV)
Deep. Fervent. Intense. Constant. These are all English translations of the Greek word eketenés, meaning “stretched out” or “earnest” love. What does this kind of love do? It “covers a multitude of sins.” What a powerful concept. Here’s what that might look like in real life.
Their Sin, Our Love: When folks around us are misbehaving, it can be hard to keep our minds, hearts, and spirits on the right track. Love sometimes makes it easier to set those frustrations aside. That’s because when we love people, God allows us to extend grace where our human nature would not necessarily do so. Making the active choice to “stretch out” love to as many people as possible lets us be vehicles of grace, “covering” others in moments of deep brokenness. What a privilege to provide such love.
Our Sin, Their Love: Now, lest you think I am letting us off the hook, we are also the necessary recipients of this fervent love. While we do our best to practice love, we are human, and we will fail. But if we have built relationships consistently on love, the likelihood that this will be transferred back to us in our own mistakes is that much higher. Isn’t it be nice when someone “covers” our sin in love, welcoming us back in grace?
For two more applications and to read the full post, link here.