In February just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I preached a message titled, “Love Covers.” Valentine’s Day is a day that is filled with the mushy, gushy aspect of the love that people have for each other (i.e., husbands and wives for each other, and boyfriends for their girlfriends and vice versa). However, this love that the Apostle Peter spoke of is not that mushy, gushy sort of love. In 1 Peter 4:8, Peter said, “Above all else, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.” This scripture addresses how God’s Love relates to our sins; however, it is also applicable to our relationships and how we engage with each other.
Do you remember that game, Rock-Paper-Scissors? In that game, we see that while Paper could not withstand scissors, it is powerful enough to cover Rock. There is power and a profoundness in the ability to cover. When you cover, you are not saying that the wrong is right, but that rather than focusing on the wrong of the other person you will strain if need be to endure in love for that person. That’s what the KJV of the Bible means when it’s uses the word “fervent” – “Above all have fervent love for one another”. Fervent means to be Strained or Stretched to the Limit. (see blueletterbible.org). When you truly love a person, you will stretch and go the distance with and for that person.
Things go awry or sideways in relationships sometimes even in the best relationships whether at home, with our extended families, in church, or with friends. No relationship is perfect and free of conflict. Nevertheless, Love forgives time and time again. God insists on forgiveness over grudges and gossip; and compassion over condemnation or unabashed, destructive criticism. Love does not keep a record of wrongs meaning it does not keep score or a tally of wrongdoing (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When we walk in this path of Christ-like love, we leave room for reconciliation. A powerful example of this is found in the lives of two preachers of the Gospel of who had a misunderstanding as told in Acts 15:36-39, which states, “After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.” The backdrop to this is found in Acts 13:13 where we see that John Mark left Paul and Barnabas when they set out on their missionary trip to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Gentiles (non-Jews). Instead of going with them, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. For this reason, Paul felt strongly that John Mark deserted them at a crucial point in ministry as they were embarking on their first missionary trip. We’re not told why John Mark left them, but for whatever reason, he did, and it resulted in conflict and a severe rift between them. However, scripture lets us know in 2 Timothy 4:11 and Colossians 4:10 that there came a time when they were reconciled with one another and the both went on to do great work for the Lord in ministry. They did not allow this misunderstanding and offense to be a permanent blot on their relationship and ministry.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, But Love covers and overwhelms ALL transgressions [forgiving and overlooking another’s faults].” (AMP). Do you see that? Love not only covers, but it overwhelms all transgressions. Love overlooks the faults of another person. True love is not mushy and gushy, but rather strong enough to be affirming despite our/your faults. Although gentle and enduring, true love that is anchored in Christ covers, overwhelms, overlooks, and forgives. The world needs this love but needs to receive Jesus Christ in their hearts to do so. Marriages need to activate and abide in this fervent love, and the body of Christ certainly must embrace, abide in, and manifest this fervent love for one another. When the fault is too seismic to overlook, stay in Christ and find your way to forgiveness, as forgiveness frees you and cleanses your heart so that the Lord can hear and receive your prayers. When the fault is abusive, find your way to safety, trust God with your hurts (He will heal you), forgive and move forward knowing that God desires abuse for no one. When the fault is a matter of misunderstanding, allow the love of Christ in you to cover, overwhelm, overlook and forgive the fault of the other person. After all, we all are at fault sometimes and stand in need of forgiveness from others and indeed from God sometimes. Rock~Paper~Scissors, which are you? If the Rock symbolizes that which crushes, the Paper symbolizes that which covers, and the Scissors symbolizes that which cuts off, which are you? I’d rather be the Paper that covers abiding in and manifesting the love of Christ.
~ Pastor DeShonda Bailey