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LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS
Once again, love is the emphasis of the verse of the day. Note that Peter calls here for, "fervent love for one another," then goes on to explain what that means. He says, "'love will cover a multitude of sins,'" and in the NKJV that is put in quotations. When that occurs, I like to see why that is. Usually, the New Testament writers and speakers are quoting an Old Testament source, although at times they will allude to a commonly-understood bromide of the time (Paul does this in Athens and elsewhere).
In this case, Peter is citing Proverbs 10:12, which says, "Hatred stirs up strife,/But love covers all sins." (NKJV). James also cites this in 5:20 when he says, "(H)e who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." So, when the phrase, "cover a multitude of sins," is used, what does it mean?
The best source for clarification on this is Peter's interaction with Peter on the topic. "Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" (Matthew 18:21-22, NKJV)
To cover a multitude of sins, then, is to forgive or forbear the, "trespasses against us," of another, especially of another believer. In this same context, after the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus goes on to say, "'So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.'"
Far from enabling the wayward, forgiveness, combined with accountability, will do more to free up your relationships than any other human action. Afraid of the consequences? Put that in the Lord's hands, commit your actions to Him, forgiving as He has forgiven you, and see what wonders He can do in the other party's life.
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