8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
My husband and I are songwriters. Many years ago, we recognized the lyrics we write are an outpouring of the lessons, the experiences, and the depth of the relationships we personally have with the Lord. Jesus said it well, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Whenever I read and study 1 or 2 Peter, I put myself in the writer’s head. How were these God-inspired words a part of Peter’s own journey? What did Peter experience personally that brings deeper meaning and substance to his words?
Our scripture for today can definitely be examined in this light. As Peter calls for the readers to demonstrate constant love for one another, we can, through the Gospel accounts, understand his own spiritual sojourns that would emphasize these words. Here are several insights:
- Peter begins this verse with the words “above all.” Other translations say before anything else or most importantly—meaning, in our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, or any others the Lord brings across our path, we are to first and foremost love them. Days before Jesus was crucified, He said these words to Peter and the other disciples, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34-35).
- Peter had personally known the love of the One who is perfect love Himself, Jesus Christ. Jesus, not only His Savior and Lord, but also his earthly Teacher and Friend, showed Peter consistent love in times when he spoke rashly (Matthew 16:21-23), when he acted rashly (John 18:10), and even when he abandoned and disacknowledged Christ (Luke 22:54-62).
- In the last part of this verse, Peter gives one amazing benefit of love: it covers a multitude of sins. We are reminded of the time when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?” And Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven!” Peter knew firsthand the power of forgiveness, especially in light of his three-time denial of Christ at the crucifixion. Jesus pursued, forgave, and drew Peter back into relationship with Him. Now Peter wants his readers to know that same grace and mercy.
In this time, in this season, in this moment of history, our call is to do the same—above all, first and foremost, love. Love deeply, love constantly, and in the process of loving, forgive and show the mercy we ourselves have received. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Read all of the book of 1 Peter through the lens of Peter’s life. See if the words take on fresh meaning as you consider various situations and lessons he learned and experienced (detailed in the Gospels). Do you hear a wiser version of himself years later as he penned these letters?
- Who in your life do you struggle with maintaining constant love? Why? Do you need to forgive? Or do you need to ask for forgiveness?
Pray with thanksgiving today for new believers around the world taking their first steps of faith. Pray for hunger for and the availability of Scripture, for encouragement, perseverance and joy.