“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The vulnerable. The other. The outcast. The people who exist in the footnotes and margins of the powerful and the privileged are the people God constantly highlights in His Word, the Bible. Christ consistently focused on the invisible, the rebellious, the irascible, and the destitute, and He covered them with forgiveness, healing, and a fresh start.
Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a man, covering the dignity of humanity by redeeming it in Himself. He made His life accessible to all: the rich, the poor, the oppressed, the lonely, the ostracized, not just through His incredible ministry—”I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13)—but also by being born in a little town of little means. His birth announcement was proclaimed to shepherds. He was born in a world with no room. Philippians 2:7–8 says, “[He] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus poured out His life for us. All of us. His death on the cross testifies to the unwavering justice of a holy God and the boundless selflessness of His love. This is the model of “earnest love” Peter wrote about. This is the model we follow. The love of God covers us while it exposes sin. As we follow Jesus, we are exposed to our own prejudices, limitations, and self-righteousness. Jesus’ actions convicted the religious experts of their lack of compassion and inspired tax collectors, prostitutes, and the sick to repent. These revelations are a gift; an opportunity to repent by walking away from old tendencies and walking with Jesus instead. Loving others well does not come naturally. Philippians 2:3–4 provides us one potent reminder: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There are two ways in which love covers in the Christian life. First, when we humbly repent of our own wrongdoing, the Lord covers us with forgiveness (1 John 1:9; James 5:16–20). Second, when we love well, we cover people in God’s love (John 13:34–35). “Covering” doesn’t mean sweeping wrongdoing, sin, or injustice under the rug. Covering means bearing the burdens, cares, and confessions of other people (1 Corinthians 13:7).