How can we make a greater impact in sharing the gospel?
Regrettably, there are some who get caught up trying to forcefully push the Bible on the world in an unloving manner. Some uncompasionately rebuke people with Bible verses, or condemningly scorn their unrighteous behavior. Yet, in doing so, they unwittingly come across as condescending and unforgiving; rather than gracious and merciful.
Human nature wants to fight opposition and “win people to Christ” with strong-worded, forceful, arguments. Yet, while we may speak rightful biblical truths, it usually causes division if we try to force others to believe our way.
Remember this basic truth: Lost people act like they are lost because they are lost.
A lost person can’t act any other way than who he is—lost and outside of Christ. Therefore, even the most skilled and influential human persuasion is insufficient to save men from their sins.
People can’t be convinced of their need for Jesus until they are convicted that they are lost in their sin. And, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts men of their sin. He speaks to the heart of a man, using the power of the living Word of God, appealing to a man’s spirit to turn in repentance to Christ. For “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).
The lost will die in their sins if they do not repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For unless a person repents of their ways, that person can’t be saved. So, it is imperative, and commanded to us by Jesus, to openly speak the truth of God’s Word to the world. At the same time, we are instructed to present the gospel in love (Eph. 4:15) and with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
A better way to speak to someone about Jesus is to follow the model of Scripture and abide in the role given to us by Jesus—that is to be a faithful witness in sharing the gospel and giving personal testimony to what Christ has done in our life.
It isn’t our role to condemn the lost, but to speak truth to the lost so that may choose to be released from the condemnation they are in, if they are without Christ. Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).
We aren’t called to argue for the gospel as an attorney. Instead, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Witnesses tell of what they have seen or heard firsthand. Our role is to lovingly testify to the gospel and to be witnesses to the reality of how God has worked in our lives.
Every believer has a personal testimony to share what Christ has done for them and how He changed their life. Your personal testimony consists of your salvation in Christ and your new life in Christ. Sharing your testimony may include telling of who you were before you came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, how you came to Christ, what Christ has done in your life, and who you are in Christ.
Sharing your testimony is powerful, and hard to challenge. People can, and will, argue over points of disagreement; but no one can argue against your testimony because you are the expert of your testimony. You own it.
Too, every believer has personal testimony to the truth and reality of Scripture.
How so? For a believer, the words of Scripture are proven firsthand. The “gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (1 Thess. 1:4). We can testify to the truth of Scripture based on the reality of our salvation experience and the impact that God’s Word has had on our life.
Even the newborn in Christ can testify to the biblical message of salvation and becoming a new man in Christ. Salvation is a personal, life changing experience that came about as we were convicted through the words of Scripture.
As we share our testimony with the lost, it is essential to read or quote from the Bible. For “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The Bible is God’s Word and testament to men. It speaks of the Lord’s salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. The Word of God “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Remember, though, we are talking to people who are lost. They are trapped and dead in their sin. As such, there will be those who are skeptical or resistant to what the Bible says.
If you find yourself speaking to someone who is resistant to the Bible, interweave more of your personal testimony and relate it to Scripture verses by sharing biblical truths that Christ has worked in and through you personally? Some may try to argue about their belief in the Bible, but it would be futile for them to argue against how the gospel has changed you. That again is yours and you own it.
Finally, as you share the gospel, allow the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of the hearer. We can rest on the power of the Word of God and Spirit of God to do their work because God wills for all men to come to Jesus for salvation. He doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (1 Peter 3:9). However, God allows everyone the free will to choose or reject His Son.
It is the individual’s responsibility to accept or reject Jesus. Our responsibility lies in being witnesses, responsibly sharing the gospel with the lost, speaking God’s Word in love and compassion. We witness by telling others about what Jesus Christ has done for us and can testify to God’s love for all men because we have experienced it for ourself.
Along with our responsibility to give testimony as witnesses, Christ gives us this charge: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt. 24:14).
Let’s be faithful to the Lord’s directive. For, “how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14).
“Love each other fervently,” Peter writes, “because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). Given Peter’s very personal experience of Christ’s love in response to his sin, it is no wonder that Peter would call the Church to express this reality. This simple phrase is not only a good encapsulation of our experience with Jesus, but it also describes our call to be Christ’s agents of love in the world.
Peter was a man who knew about sin. From the first moment Jesus stepped into his boat, Peter was confronted by his waywardness. “Get away from me Lord,” he exclaimed, “for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Things did not get much better as time went on. As Peter journeyed with Jesus he continually ran head-long into the stumbling block of his own failings. He cowered in fear because of the waves, even though Jesus called him out of the boat; he attempted to rebuke Jesus moments after declaring him the Messiah; three times he denied allegiance to his Lord. Yes, Peter knew about sin. But Peter was a man who also knew about love. Peter experienced Christ’s refusal to dismiss him after confessing his sinfulness. He experienced the saving hand of Jesus reach out while drowning in the ocean. Most significantly, Jesus wiped away every one of Peter’s denials with the simple yet profound question: “Do you love me?” Yes, Peter knew the healing power of love.
What Does 'Love Covers a Multitude of Sins' Mean?Every Christian person, in some way or another, has experienced the love of God covering sin. This is not simply Peter’s story, this is our own. Christ’s love brings redemption, full redemption. The love of Jesus relentlessly overcomes the sinfulness and failings of human life. Love covers sin. However, covering sin is not the same as covering up our sin. To cover up our sin is to hide our waywardness. We mask our mistakes and pretend that we have not transgressed God’s holy commandments. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden. The two wayward souls hide amongst the bushes in a misguided attempt to flee from the presence of God. Furthermore, Adam and Eve, quite literally, cover themselves up. Covering up our sin only serves to lock us in the dynamic of spiritual oppression and damage. Covering up our sin does not do away with sin, it simply removes it from our eyes. Sin still exists within and, eventually, it will destroy us.
Covering sin, however, means forgiveness. Covering sin means the negation of sin’s power in human life. Covering sin means God puts the power of sin to death. You see the interplay between the two concepts beautifully displayed in Psalm 32. This Psalm details David’s struggle with his own sinfulness. David declares “When I kept silent, my bones were wasting away through my groaning all day long. Day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped” (vs 3-4). As David remains silent, sin eats away at his spiritual vitality. Guilt, remorse, shame – these begin to dominate his life. More and more, David feels overcome by the negative spiritual weight that hangs on him.
The turnaround comes when David refuses to “cover up” his sin. David writes, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not cover up my iniquity. . . you forgive the guilt of my sin” (vs 5). David acknowledges his sin before God. David uncovers his sin to allow God to “cover it’ – to redeem it, to forgive it. In doing this, David experiences the full liberation wrought from God’s love. For David, to uncover his sin would be to make a formal confession and sacrifice before God.
In the ancient world, the language of covering sin referred to the cultic practice of sacrifice as the means for forgiveness. Forgiveness was pronounced through the blood of the sacrifice. One left the sacrificed freed from their sins, as the sin was understood to be covered by the blood of the animal. Thus, the book of Hebrews declares “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22) The blood of animals covered the sins of the penitent. For Israel, it would be fair to say that sacrifice covers a multitude of sins.
Everything changes with Jesus. Jesus is the true Pascal Lamb whose blood covers sin once and for all. In fact, 1 John 1:17 states that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin. John’s point is the same as Peter’s. Forgiveness of our sin is found in the sacrifice of Jesus. We no longer need to cover up, to hide, to mask our failings. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice in which sin is finally, and fully, dealt with. Jesus redeems and he redeems fully. The love of Jesus covers over the entirety of our sin. This is the biblical reality in which we live our lives. It is the promise of God for every one of us. Each of us, as followers of Jesus, claim that truth that the incarnate love of God has covered the totality of our sin.
How Can We Love Others?
Peter experienced Christ’s boundless love in his life again and again. Furthermore, when we meditate on this, we come to the same realization. The radical thing about this passage, however, is the Peter is not being self reflective. As much as the declaration that love covers sin describes his own experience before Jesus, in this letter Peter is not actually talking about himself. Instead, Peter is encouraging the Christian community to express this very love in the world. Peter calls the church to embody the full and radical nature of Christ’s love. Peter writes “Above all, love each other fervently, for love covers over a multitude of sins.” Peter then issues the call to hospitality, service, and speaking the words of God. For Peter, the love that covers a multitude of sins is the love the Christian community expresses outwards. We love as Christ loved us.
Embodying the love that overcomes the multitude of sins involves a commitment to intimacy and vulnerability. It is to recognise the frailty and the brokenness of the Christian brother and sister, and the frailty and brokenness of our selves. We welcome the other as beloved of God regardless of whatever faults and failings we may see within them.
This means we love the other as they are, not as we wish them to be. Attempting to mold another into the image of who we believe he or she should be is to place a limitation on love. It is to step outside the love of Jesus. This is because we effectively deny that our brother or sister is someone worthy of the same forgiveness, grace, and love that we have received. We place a condition upon their acceptance in the community, a condition that Christ has not placed on us. Such a refusal to live out the love of Christ destroys the Christian community.
When we “cover sin” through the love of Christ in us, we boldly accept the Christian brother or sister. We willingly forgive as opposed to holding one’s sinfulness against them. We refuse to partake in the negative and destructive habits of gossip, backtalk, or insult. We choose to allow the love of Jesus in us to respond to the love of Jesus in the other. As we receive the reality of Christ’s unyielding love for ourselves, acknowledging that Christ covers our sins, we must radically claim that truth for the other. We cannot recognize Christ’s love covering our sin and then wilfully withhold that love for another. This is antithetical to the gospel. The love of Jesus, free and unrestricted, becomes the measure of how we treat one another.
How Can We Practically Implement 'Love Covers a Multitude of Sins'?
The choice we have as Christians is twofold: we can either cover up sin or cover it. To cover up sin is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Within ourselves, it means that we make justifications for sin. Or, in those times when we know we cannot justify our sin, we hide from God and pretend that God just doesn’t see what has transpired. In each case, sin festers within us and destroys us.
When it comes to our fellow members of the Christian community, we cover up sin by refusing to acknowledge the frailty of human life. We hold another’s sin against them as justification to push them away from Christian community, and from our lives. We allow another’s failings and mistakes to dictate our vision of their very identity. In doing so we make the Christian community nothing more than a dream, a wish. Our version of Christian community becomes an exaltation of our own selves, where everyone is called to be who I wish them to be and does what I wish they would do. Yet here there is no love for there is no acceptance.
To “cover sin” is to recognize that the love of Jesus forgives sin, within ourselves, and within others. It is to root ourselves on the solid basis of Christ’s love and forgiveness. Thus, we make the love of Jesus the ground upon which we all stand – and thus the ground upon which we accept, embrace, and serve the other.
What might it look like to allow Christ love, flowing within us, to overcome another’s weakness, sinfulness, or imperfection? How might we allow the love of Jesus to change the way we view those who are different than us? Love covers a multitude of sins because it embraces the other. It receives the other, it serves the other. This is not something that we as members of the Christian community are to only say, we are also to express it with our lives and express it radically. Living in this way, Peter reminds us “glorifies God in all things through Christ Jesus, now and forever” (4:11).
Author: 1 Peter 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of 1 Peter as the apostle Peter.
Date of Writing: The Book of 1 Peter was likely written between A.D. 60 and 65.
Purpose of Writing: 1 Peter is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the ancient world and were under intense persecution. If anyone understood persecution, it was Peter. He was beaten, threatened, punished, and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to endure without bitterness, without losing hope and in great faith living an obedient, victorious life. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was the message, and Christ’s example was the one to follow.
1 Peter 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."
1 Peter 5:8-9, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Brief Summary: Though this time of persecution was desperate, Peter reveals that it was actually a time to rejoice. He says to count it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ, as their Savior suffered for them. This letter makes reference to Peter’s personal experiences with Jesus and his sermons from the book of Acts. Peter confirms Satan as the great enemy of every Christian but the assurance of Christ’s future return gives the incentive of hope.
Connections: Peter’s familiarity with the Old Testament law and prophets enabled him to explain various OT passages in light of the life and work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:16, he quotes Leviticus 11:44: “Be holy, for I am holy.” But he prefaces it by explaining that holiness is not achieved by keeping the law, but by the grace bestowed upon all who believe in Christ (v. 13). Further, Peter explains the reference to the “cornerstone” in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 as Christ, who was rejected by the Jews through their disobedience and unbelief. Additional Old Testament references include the sinless Christ (1 Peter 2:22 / Isaiah 53:9) and admonitions to holy living through the power of God which yields blessings (1 Peter 3:10:12; Psalm 34:12-16; 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 3:34).
Practical Application: The assurance of eternal life is given to all Christians. One way to identify with Christ is to share in His suffering. To us that would be to endure insults and slurs from those who call us "goodie two shoes" or "holier than thou." This is so minor compared to what Christ suffered for us on the Cross. Stand up for what you know and believe is right and rejoice when the world and Satan aim to hurt you.
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,” says it all (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ bearing of our iniquities was an undeniable act of love (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). In fact, Jesus did more than just cover our sin; He did away with it completely (Hebrews 10:12–14).
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” (John 13:34–35). First Corinthians 13 tells us that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (verse 5). 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 offenses of our brothers and sisters in Christ with anyone who will listen, we exercise discretion and restraint. Matthew 18:15–17 instructs us on the appropriate way to confront those who sin.
James 5:19–20 says,
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” It is loving to speak truth to others regarding sin. First Corinthians 13:6 tells us that “love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
Another thing love does is protect (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love does not cover over a multitude of sin by sweeping matters under the rug. Some have appealed to the forgiving nature of love in their attempt to hide indiscretion. For example, rather than report child abuse, a church might cover it up. This is not what true love does. Love protects by helping both the victim and the offender, and it also strives to prevent further offenses.
Love covering sin also does not mean we disregard our own emotions or ignore our personal boundaries. We cannot “cover” sin by denying that it hurt us. We cover sin by acknowledging it and then extending the forgiveness God has given us to others.
“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” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7). 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.
One of the most popular of the biblical proverbs is Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up conflict, / but love covers over all wrongs.” Some translations read, “Love covers all offenses” or “all transgressions.” What does is mean that love covers all wrongs?
This proverb is an example of antithetical parallelism in Hebrew poetry. A close look at the contrast involved helps provide a better understanding. “Hatred” is contrasted with “love.” The “stirring up” is contrasted with a “covering over.” And “conflict” is what hatred is promoting, whereas love seeks to make peace by covering “all wrongs.” To provide an expanded paraphrase: “Hatred looks for a fight and refuses to smooth things over, but love desires peace between warring parties and will not be involved in provoking dissension.”
Love covers all wrongs, but the wicked find motivation from hatred or spite toward others. In contrast, the righteous are motivated by love. Hatred seeks ways to cause trouble, but love looks for ways to forgive.
This same proverb is quoted in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” In this context, the proverb emphasizes that love is expressed through forgiveness of sins.
The idea of love being associated with forgiveness is found frequently in Scripture. One important example is found in 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” See also John 3:16and 1 John 3:16. The work of Christ on the cross—the work of our forgiveness—was an act of divine love.
In our own personal relationships, we also show love in our forgiveness of others. One of love’s characteristics is that “it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love has no list of how or how often it has been offended. Love forgives.
A related idea from Proverbs 10:12 is the concept of “covering” sins. This concept is communicated elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe God’s forgiveness of sins. For example, Psalm 85:2 reads, “You forgave the iniquity of your people / and covered all their sins.” In the New Testament, Romans 4:7 speaks of the blessedness of knowing God’s love and forgiveness: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
James 5:19–20 says, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” Again, the idea of “covering” many sins communicates the fact of a person’s sins being forgiven.
Our lives are to be characterized by godly love that forgives the sins of others. Our extending of forgiveness is motivated by the truth that God has forgiven our sin through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:32).
How many times should we forgive?
Up to seven times?
That was Peter’s question in Matthew 18:21. Jesus’ answer: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Where sin increases, grace increases all the more (Romans 5:20). Love covers a multitude of sins—and it keeps on covering.
A major literary device in Hebrew poetry is parallelism. Often, the parallelism is synonymous—the same idea is restated in different words, side by side (see Psalm 40:13). Antithetical parallelism provides an antithesis, or contrast. A verse containing antithetical parallelism will bring together opposing ideas in marked contrast. Instead of saying the same thing twice, it says one thing and then a different thing.
The antithetical parallelism in Ecclesiastes 10:2 is quite apparent:
“The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.”
Two hearts, two directions. The wise man’s heart desires one thing, and the fool’s heart desires something completely different. Their inclinations are antithetical.
Often, but not always, antithetical parallelism is set up with the conjunction but. Here’s another example, from Proverbs 19:16:
“He who obeys instructions guards his life,
but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.”
Again, we have two ideas in antithesis. One person follows advice and thus lives in safety, whereas another person despises his life and is heading for trouble. In this proverb, we have a couple things that do not seem to be complete opposites—and this is what makes the poetry rich.
“Guards his life” contrasts neatly with “will die” in Proverbs 19:16. It’s a choice between life and death. But, strictly speaking, “obeys instructions” is not the opposite of “is contemptuous of his ways.” The poetry requires us to do a little reading between the lines. We can start by asking the question, how is not obeying instructions equal to being contemptuous of one’s ways? The answer could be something like this: disobedience brings destruction, so willful rebellion is tantamount to despising one’s own life. The proverb is communicating more than meets the eye. The full meaning could be stated this way:
“He who obeys instructions loves his life and will preserve it (because the instructions are healthy),
but he who disobeys instructions is showing contempt for his life, and he will die.”
Proverbs 10:2 contains another example of antithetical parallelism:
“Ill-gotten treasures are of no value,
but righteousness delivers from death.”
Or, to fill out the meaning:
“Ill-gotten treasures lead to death and are of no value,
but righteousness, which refuses to cheat others, leads to life—great value, indeed.”
Sometimes, the Hebrew poets used a combination of parallel styles. Consider the words of Wisdom personified in Proverbs 8:35-36:
“For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the Lord.
But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
all who hate me love death.”
The first two lines exhibit synonymous parallelism: finding “life” equals receiving “favor.” Lines 3 and 4 also present synonymous ideas: “harm” is equated with “death.” However, the two halves of the quatrain are in contrast with each other. (Notice but at the start of the third line.) The first two lines, taken together, describe someone who finds Wisdom. The last two lines describe the fate of one who “hates” Wisdom and therefore fails to find it.
Much of the Bible was originally written in poetic form. Psalms, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations are almost entirely poetic. Most of the prophets also wrote in poetry, some of them exclusively so. Because poetry is so pervasive in the Hebrew writings, it is beneficial for the student of the Bible to study the structure and forms of parallelism.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” we have a list of love’s attributes. Included in the description of love are some things that love is not. Verse 5 says that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Or, as the Amplified Bible translates it, “It takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”
This idea of keeping no list of wrongs directly connects with Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers earlier in the epistle. Some in the church were bringing lawsuits against other Christians. Instead of settling church matters among themselves in a spirit of humility and love, they were dragging each other to court. Paul takes a firm stand on the matter: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). To combat the attitude of demanding one’s “pound of flesh,” Paul wrote that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” In fact, it is better to be cheated than to be unloving.
Jesus Christ provided the
ultimate example of this type of love.
On the cross He paid the price for the sins of the entire world. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus kept no record of wrongs; rather, He prayed, “Father, forgive them,” from the cross as He died (Luke 23:34).
Colossians 3:13-14 also ties forgiveness to love: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Refusing to keep a record of wrongs is a clear expression of God’s love and forgiveness.
So often, people say they love each other, but, as soon as one gets angry, out comes the list of past sins! Accusations fly, painful memories are dredged up, and bygones are no longer bygones. This is not love. True, godly love forgives and refuses to keep track of personal slights received. The focus of love is not one’s own pain, but the needs of the loved one.
Obviously, we should not allow people to continue to hurt or abuse us or others. That’s not what 1 Corinthians 13:6 is teaching. The goal is to have a spirit of reconciliation, to forgive those who seek forgiveness, letting the past stay in the past.
Some people have an ax to grind, but Christian love seeks to bury the hatchet. Love keeps no record of wrongs, for we forgive as Christ has forgiven us. When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). That is love.