How Fervent Love Covers All Sin

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

How Fervent Love Covers All Sins by Steppes of Faith

“And above all things, have fervent love for one another for love will cover a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

Ask any parent what their kids’ toughest issue is, and they will probably mention sibling rivalry ranking somewhere in the top five. I know it is in my house. I have three boys who like to stubbornly argue about everything (at least it seems that way): video games, television shows, books, who gets to sit next to the window, who gets the ranch dressing first, and, believe it not, even politics.

With such strong personalities, it can be hard for the boys to forgive each other when something goes awry. Unfortunately, grownups are often not much different.

Forgiveness is not easy. It is like mastering an art form that is not in our skill set sometimes. It is why Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and forgive 7×70 times (Matthew 18:22). He knows it is hard for us. So, how do we do it? There is no magic trick, but there is something you can do.

You can cover their sin.

Nero’s Deception

Before we get too far, let’s put Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:8 into historical context.

Approximately 64 years after Jesus’ death on the cross, the evil emperor Nero burned the city of Rome to the ground. No one exactly knows why, but with everything burned and destroyed, including all aspects of culture and religion, not to mention lives, many Romans were left homeless and hopeless. They quickly realized their “gods” could not save them.

Sensing an uprising, Nero convinced the Roman people that the Christians were to blame for the destruction. The Romans already hated and discriminated against Christians because of their relationship with the Jews, who historically hated the Romans for decades of persecution. Tension was high, and peace was tenuous. So, Nero blaming Christians was an easy sell.

Nero’s lies quickly spread far and wide across the empire, deepening the Romans’ hostility toward Christians and sending them into hiding. Sadly, this hatred continues today.

It was during this time that Peter wrote his first epistle. His goal was to strengthen the early church, offer hope, teach them how to live victoriously despite the situation, and encourage them to forgive the Romans’ treatment of them.

He also wanted to impress on his fellow believers something very radical. If they displayed patience, forgiveness, and fervent love as Jesus taught, even as the Romans relentlessly persecuted them, they could actually spread the gospel.

Early Christians had a difficult time loving the Romans and covering their sin after they were blamed for destroying Rome.

What is Fervent Love?

In the fourth chapter of 1 Peter, Peter talks about serving for God’s glory, and he mentions having fervent love for others.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fervent means “exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling; zealous.” When it is used to describe love, it means to put others first and seek their spiritual good even if they are not kind or gracious, or even if they are hostile toward us.

You can imagine how hard it must have been for the Christians to have fervent love for the Romans. You may have had an experience where you have found it hard to seek the highest good for someone who hates you. But, this is the heart of God.

Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and pray for them (Luke 6:27,35), and He demonstrated it when He repeatedly forgave those who tortured and crucified Him (Luke 23:34). We also see God’s fervent love for His chosen people, Israel, throughout history. Therefore, based on Jesus’ teaching, Peter instructs us to have fervent love because it “covers a multitude of sins.” What does Peter mean?

Fervent love is true spiritual love. It is first mentioned in Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” In other words, the one requirement to have fervent love is forgiveness. You cannot hate and forgive at the same time. If you forgive, hate diminishes so you can more clearly seek that person’s spiritual good. That is when the healing begins.

We have to overlook the sins of others and always be ready to forgive no matter the circumstances.

Covering Sin

How is it possible to overlook, or cover, someone’s sin? In our human nature, it’s too easy to feel betrayed. Peter gives us two answers.

Be Hospitable. “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)

To show hospitality means to be kind and welcoming toward others. One example of hospitality in the Bible was welcoming strangers into your home, which was a common practice in the first century so traveling Christians always had a friendly place to sleep and eat.

It might not be easy to show hospitality to someone who has hurt you. It may begin with simple courtesy (“please” and “thank you”) and thoughtfulness. But if you have fervent love in your heart…if you can truly forgive…it gets easier. This is why Jesus tells us to forgive 7×70 times. It takes that much to get it right and make it a habit.

Notice that Peter says to be hospitable “without grumbling.” No matter how hurt you may feel, an effort toward an upright heart and attitude is essential for every Christian.

Minister to Them. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Each of us has received an unearned spiritual gift from the Lord. The apostle Paul outlines these gifts in Romans 12:6-8.

“Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or service, let us give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; or he who exhorts, to his exhorting: he who gives, let him do it with liberality; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” 

Our spiritual gifts are not for our use, but for the loving good of others in service to God. It makes our love more fervent and sincere and our forgiveness more effective.

We can cover someone's sin with our love and hospitality.

Echoing Words

In Romans 12:9-21, Paul offers advice very similar to Peter’s.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (v 9-11)

Paul also mentions…

  • Hospitality
  • Blessing others who persecute you
  • Not repaying evil for evil
  • Being at peace with everyone, and
  • Not ever seeking revenge.

This portion of scripture is also where we read, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v 20-21).

We can only overcome evil if we have fervent love and forgiveness in our heart. It is a worthy goal and one we should often pray about, not just for ourselves but others too.

Continue in Fervent Love

When others hurt us, allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you to forgive, foster fervent love, and minister to others through our kindness and hospitality.

Love can truly cover any sin. Jesus proved it again and again. In His service, let’s continue to love even when it is difficult. You will soon discover it is you who benefits the most.

Honest love and forgiveness covers all sin.


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2 Replies to “How Fervent Love Covers All Sin”

  1. I am struggling to forgive, as I am not certain the timing is appropriate. Yet when I speak about what these people are doing people are saying “forgive! Forgive!” Maybe it is because they are facing me so they can’t see that the knife is still in my back and I can not move on quite yet(forgive). Say someone kills a person you love. The wound is deep and sudden, but the knife comes out the second the action is over with and you can at least have a healing period of grief. But if the attack is continuous, not over, nothing final as death. People think you can start healing but you can not, not while the wicked could still stop their evil doings. Or someone else comes and pushes them off and takes that knife out(like our government should). I really don’t see the knife coming out any time soon. Am I really supposed to forgive my attacker while the knife is still in my back and their hand still twisting it? Say they have a piece of your heart, they removed it from your chest and you are bleeding out in pain every second. Say this is a vital part of your heart for survival and they could come give it back to you, but that would take them deciding you deserve to live. Ideally, while praying for them, they will one day return and your heart can be made whole, and you will be so overjoyed, you will forgive without hesitation. But say the years are dragging on, and you are not sure your heart will ever have its pieces back together. Forgiveness is the spiritual tourniquet, which will likely not sustain you much longer, and you won’t stop hurting, although you may be trying to act like you are ok. But if you even are able to act ok, the evildoers will say “see! She is fine. We never hurt her! This was all acceptable!” And then they keep hurting people, and others see that you seem to be moving on and think that what the evildoers did was ok also. “Well, see! That woman is just fine! We can do that same thing to people!” Do you see? There are plenty of people with this affliction walking around numb, like half-hearted zombies and making everyone think this is ok? What about when God tells us that when someone sins against us, rebuke him, and if he repents, you must forgive. Over and over, so long as he repents, just as God doe for us. But EVEN GOD, WHO IS LOVE HIMSELF, REQUIRES US TO REPENT IN ORDER FOR HIM TO FORGIVE US. GOD will always love us, but he requires repentance to forgive us our sins. So it is possible to LOVE without forgiveness. Don’t mean to debate, I assure you I come in respect and complete humility, but do you really think that God is asking us to do something He Himself won’t do?

    • Jennifer, my heart is so broken for you. I am so very sorry you’ve been through such a horrible ordeal that is, apparently, still going on. You asked a very good question, that if I think God asks us to do something He doesn’t do. Yes, I think He does. The difference is in who the person sinned against. I understand you are hurting, but in complete and utter respect and gentleness, the truth is that person hasn’t sinned against you. That person has only sinned against God. Only God can be sinned against, and it is God alone who has the power to forgive sin after repentance. And it’s up to God to judge and to execute proper punishment. Our job is to allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our heart, to soften it enough that we can forgive and release the hold Satan is trying to keep on us. It may not be an amazing transformation on your part. Sometimes finding forgiveness takes years, and you probably will never forget what has happened. That’s okay. You only need to stay in prayer and seek God for yourself, for your own healing and deliverance. Remember, love covers a multitude of sin, but this isn’t necessarily love for the person who hurt you but rather love for our Lord and Savior. Because you love Him, seek the Holy Spirit so forgiveness can be found and the healing can begin. It seems that right now God is working on your heart. I pray you stay open to what He’s trying to show you. As for the person who hurt you, no, you don’t have to act like everything’s okay. In fact, I would encourage you to be bold and honest and talk to that person about what he or she has done to you as soon as possible. If he or she won’t repent or just brushes you off, God says you have the right to walk away from that person and never have anything to do with them again (assuming we’re not talking about a spouse here. In that case, seek Christian counseling right away). And perhaps you need to take a break from those who are simply telling you to get over it. It’s okay to stay away from those who negatively affect your healing process. So, communicate your hurt to the person who’s hurting you, see if you can resolve the issue together, seek the Holy Spirit to help you forgive and give you the right words to say, then allow the Spirit to heal you so you can move on. Trust that God will adequately deal with that person in His own timing. I hope this was helpful. It sounds like a difficult situation. But remember that God is still with you. He sees you, He hears you, and His heart hurts for your brokenness. But His love has amazing power, so stay close to Him. Ask Him to shelter you, to give you wisdom and strength, for guidance and comfort. I believe He will give you all these things as long as you keep seeking Him and walk obediently with Him. God bless you, Jennifer. I will continue praying for you. Please feel free to contact me again if you need someone to pray with you. I’m here for you, dear sister.