"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).
What are the odds that our spouse will never sin against us ever again? If the odds are pretty low, then we desperately need to memorize and meditate on Peter's counsel. What are the odds that we will take something our spouse does as a sin against us even when it might not be? If the odds are pretty high, then we also desperately need to memorize and meditate on Peter's counsel.
Peter gives a clear command in this verse - keep loving one another. The fact that Peter has to command such things shows that our love is in constant danger of waning. If we don't take constant steps to keep loving, we will stop loving. Think about a fire. Fires rarely increase in intensity over time. They tend to go out. In fact, without a continual supply of fuel, it's a guarantee the fire will go out. Our love is the same way. It rarely just intensifies on its own. It has to be fueled and stoked.
Peter expects our love to be a certain kind of love - earnest love. The fact that Peter has to use an adverb after his command to love shows us there are different intensities of love. If we have to be told to love earnestly, it must be possible to love non-earnestly. Earnest means serious, sincere or deep. So Peter wants us to take our responsibility to love seriously, not flippantly. He wants us to be sincere, not manipulative. And he wants our love to be deep and intense, not shallow and hollow.
How important is earnest love? So important that Peter says we should be loving one another earnestly - above all. More important than anything else in this world is our love for one another. Naturally we think of our obligation to love God as more important than our love for one another, and that's understandable. However, if we love God, we will love one another. They go hand in hand, because the Spirit that puts the love for God in our hearts also puts a love for one another in our hearts.
Peter wants us to love one another earnestly above all else because love covers a multitude of sins. Why is it so important for us to love our spouse earnestly? Because our spouse will sin against us. And even when our spouse doesn't sin against us, our own sinfulness will seek to accentuate the worst in our spouse anyway. Sin kills marital happiness. Love covers that sin so that marital happiness can be protected or restored. Tomorrow I'll look at specific, practical ways that love covers sin.