In Any Kind of Weather Wear Your Cover ALL

We are still considering the belt described as love: compacting all our relationship building virtues into us, so that we can be a blessing to others.  Today I want to focus on another aspect of that love, the love of our enemies.  The Message translates Col 3:14-15 as:

“Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

The Message translates love as an “all-purpose garment” and that we are to “never be without it.” Yes love should be worn everyday as part of our person. It is the most important moral quality in the believer’s spiritual wardrobeBut it is also a all weather garment, esspecially when the weather turns for the worst.  Can we still love like this when our lives get stormy and the wind is against us?

‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt 5:43-44)

“And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:34-35)

Today, this idea of love, binding relationship skills together has also made me think of the phrase “love covers a multitude of sins.” A Cover all that is like a jacket to be worn in any kind of weather that we may encounter.   In 1 Peter 4:8, Peter echoes Paul…

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”

In other words, the one requirement to have a strong, determined love is forgiveness.

Before we go on, let’s put Peter’s words into historical context. Christian Courier tells us that approximately 64 years after Jesus’s 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” couldn’t save them.  Sensing an uprising, Nero convinced the Roman people that the Christians were to blame for the destruction.

Nero’s lies quickly spread far and wide across the empire, deepening the Romans’ hostility toward Christians and sending them into hiding. Nero hated Christians and persecuted believers: he had them thrown to dogs, nailed to crosses in his garden, and burned alive to serve as living torches in the night.

It was during this time that Peter wrote his first epistle.  His goal was to strengthen the Christians and offer hope.  He also wanted to teach them how to live victoriously despite the situation, and encourage them to forgive the Romans’ treatment of them because the Romans’ beliefs were based on lies and deception. 

Believers, despite circumstances, could still be obedient to Christ even in persecution, by allowing love to “cover a multitude of sins.”

This love, means to forgive and put others first and seek their spiritual good even if they aren’t kind or gracious, sometimes even hostile to us. You may have had an experience where you’ve found it hard to seek the highest good for someone who hates you. This is the love Peter is talking about.  In a world where people are easily offended, this is a love that covers a multitude of offences.

 Jesus showed us this kind of love in Luke 23:34 when He prayed on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” He also instructed us to love our enemies and pray for them (Luke 6:27-31, 35):

 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you…  But love your enemies, do good to them…” 

We have to cover the sins of others that offend us, anger us, rile us, with a grace-giving love that is always ready to forgive no matter the circumstances.   

It means:

  • we have to bear with one another’s sins (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13), even when we feel betrayed and offended.  This does not mean ignoring the seriousness of sin, but bearing with one another has we learn to deal with sin in our lives.  An offering of grace to others just as God is gracious to us in our struggles against sin.
  • we need to be open and friendly, inviting people into our circle AND not grumble about having to do it (1 Peter 4:9-10)
  • we need to use our gifts and talents to minister to them (Rom 12:6-8), remembering that our gifts are for loving service to others and to deepen our love, making our forgiveness more effective.
  • We are to be sincere in our love, devoted to one another (Rom 12:9-10)
  • We are to actively bless those who persecute us (Rom 12:14)
  • Maintain peace with everyone (Rom 12:18)
  • Not seek revenge, which means not repaying evil with evil (Rom 12:17)
  • We are to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21)

At the end of the day, we’ll discover it’s us who benefit the most by letting our love cover a multitude of sin.  The reality is that as believers we can expect persecution (2 Tim 3:12  “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”)

  • One can expect to be persecuted by your own people,
  • Be teased, mocked, ridiculed for being a Christian
  • Be overlooked in the world, in the workplace, in church, amongst friends and even in your own family
  • If you have anything good or do anything good, you can expect opposition from others.

But Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:10). 

It is to our benefit to let “love cover a multitude of sins,” because it identifies us with the Kingdom of heaven.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When things turn out badly for you: say people criticise you, or exclude you, gossip about you, judge you wrongfully, accuse you – how are your feelings of love changed towards them?  Are you easily affected in situations like these and what is your typical response or action when people wrong you?
  2. How does forgiveness change the way you respond and the way your enemies respond to you? (Matt 4:43-48; Luke 6:37; Prov 25:21-22; Rom 12:17-21; Eph 4:31-32; Eph 4:26-27; Matt 18:21-35)
  3. How can you actively implement Luke 6:27-31, 35 into your life?  Has there ever been a day that you have dedicated to dealing with your enemies?

Thank you for showing me this Lord, for reminding me that being characterized by love as a believer includes loving when it is hard to forgive.  Letting love cover a multitude of sins is not approving of the sin, or enabling the sin, but not allowing the sin to cause me to do evil.  Love allows me to still be good to them, serve them, love them for how You see them.  It gives me a choice to actively bless their lives.  In this way, love overcomes that which the enemy meant for evil.  Help me to love the people around me like this Lord.

Previous: Bind It Together with Love

This is the last in this bible study series.