1 Peter – Chapter Four XIX

by Ed Urzi

“Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins” (1 Peter 4:8 GNB).

As we consider this passage and its reference to “sins,” it is important to distinguish between a behavior that may be subject to remediation and one that is not. We can ask several questions that can help us make that determination. For instance…

  • Is the issue related to a matter of personal taste or preference?
  • Are the concerns related to personality clashes or differences in opinion on secondary matters?
  • If one party is insistent, can we apply Romans 12:10 and “Give preference to one another in honor” (NASB)?
  • Is the matter relatively insignificant or manageable?

In such instances, we might do well to overlook (or cover) such things to help maintain unity and fellowship with other men and women of God. Yet even though “…love covers a multitude of sins” (ESV), this does not justify silence in matters that may be illegal, immoral, unethical, or potentially life-threatening. Those matters might include instances of theft, battery, sexual misconduct, talk of a potential suicide, or other such examples.

In addition, 1 Peter 4:3 outlined a range of sinful behaviors that would lead to disciplinary action in any church that seeks to honor God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 offer several others. These examples present us with a responsibility to engage the relevant authorities, including pastoral ministers who can offer guidance, direction, and support.

1 Timothy 5:13 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 also highlight some less prominent (but highly destructive) behaviors that relate to this discussion. Jesus provided us with the appropriate response for indiscretions that fall within those boundaries…

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17 NLT).

Finally, it would befit us to adopt the following guideline from the Biblical book of Galatians in our relationships with others within the family of God: “…if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong” (Galatians 6:1 TLB).