1 Peter – Chapter Four XVII

by Ed Urzi

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

As mentioned previously in our look at 1 Peter chapter one, the word “fervent” is often associated with a sense of emotional passion. While it may seem natural to attribute that quality to our text from 1 Peter 4:8, this word embodies the characteristics of earnestness and intensity. In contrast to those who are insensitive or disinterested, this passage conveys the idea of an athlete who stretches to his or her limit in pursuit of a goal.

This definition reminds us that “fervent love” may not correlate with the outward display of emotional affection. For example, the type of love referenced here stems from a volitional choice. There would be little need to stretch ourselves to the limit in our love for one another if everyone shared the same mutual affection for each other. One source expands upon this idea with the following insight…

Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all, Rom_15:2, and works no ill to any, Rom_13:8-10; love seeks opportunity to do good to ‘all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith'” (1)

This type of love involves a muscular, Christ-oriented commitment to act in the best interests of others, even in the absence of an emotional feeling. For example, genuine love seeks to determine what is best for everyone in a given situation from a Biblical perspective. That determination may lead us to take an unpopular stand, act in humility, engage in forthright conversations, minimize our interaction with the unrepentant, or defend others from those who seek to inflict harm or misfortune upon them.

Genuine love may require us to allow others to face the consequences of their choices (1 Timothy 1:19-20, Mark 10:21-22). It may involve corrective or disciplinary measures (Revelation 3:19, Hebrews 12:5-11). It might require us to exercise wisdom and discretion as we interact with one another (Ecclesiastes 3:5). These responses often run counter to the shallow, syrupy view of love that often prevails in various forms of media. Thus, an accurate, mature perspective regarding the nature of genuine love can help us fulfill this mandate from 1 Peter 4:8.

(1) W.E. Vine with C.F. Hogg, Vine’s Expository Commentary On 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Copyright © 1997, Pg.79-80. See https://archive.org/details/vinesexpositoryc00vine/mode/2up