God's People: The need for Love (1 Peter 4.7-10)

"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4.7-10). The phrase of emphasis here is: "And above all things have fervent love for one another."

Peter states unequivocally why love is so important – "For 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'" The King James Version of the scriptures has been criticized by many for it use of archaic words. In this text the word charity is used where love appears in the New King James Version. Actually charity is preferred due to the current misuse and abuse of the word love in the English language. Charity needs definition where love is thought to be understood but in most cases isn't. Charity translates the Greek word agape and is totally divorced from sensual, sexual, or base motives of any sort. Charity (agape) always seeks the highest good of all parties; it is never selfish or self-seeking.

It is charity then that Peter encourages as a way of life among believers and to his readers. Charity is so important that Peter qualifies it with the word fervent; fervent love ought to be held among believers. The word translated fervent is used only two times in the scriptures. It literally carries the idea of something that is "stretched out" or prolonged. Love ought to be stretched out! Love is elastic where motives of a base sort are rigid and will not bend at all. Love is pliable and can fit itself to every situation; love is willing to adjust where lovelessness is unyielding and hard.

"Love," says Peter, "will hide a multitude of sins." In making this statement Peter quoted from . Someone else has observed in a more contemporary vein that "love is the oil that takes the friction out of life." In relationships the attitude of love manifests itself as the Golden Rule. In businesses, love manifests itself in truly seeking to satisfy the customer, not just as a policy, but as a value that is unchangeable. In the home, love displays itself in scores of ways but always in seeking the highest good for other family members; it places self last and others in the forefront of the picture. A lady I know observed that she thought that her mother really did like the back of the chicken since that was always the piece that she took at the supper table. It wasn't until the lady was grown that she realized that her mother was content to take the less desirable piece of chicken so that her children could have the joy of eating the more palatable pieces. That is how love functions in families. Love truly has a way of making grey skies seem blue and hard times seem just what we need!

One final thought: Love is kind and does not grumble. Think of it this way: What would you think of Jesus had He gone to the cross complaining about the fact that He was being forced to die for a bunch of ingrates? Or what if read: "God gave His Son even thought He didn't want to do it?" Love doesn't grumble but is proud to do its part in every aspect of life. Yes, as Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love…"