Open Your Bible
1 Peter 4:1-11, Proverbs 10:12, Romans 6:1-11
BY Erin Davis
I’m a big fan of the bottom line. Get me to the point, and fast. Perhaps that’s why I love this gem, found near the middle of the book of 1 Peter: “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (4:8).
This is the axis upon which the book of 1 Peter pivots. If we take a zoomed out approach, we see Peter tackling all manner of tough topics in this little letter. From holiness, to submission, to suffering, to leadership—Peter went for the jugular in his appeal to the Church. But all of it rises and falls and culminates with love.
Because what is “holiness,” divorced from a love for God? It’s rule-following at best, and legalism at its worst. What is submission apart from love? Manipulation? Fear? The ugly counterpart to dominance? Who wants a loveless marriage or cold-hearted shepherd? Not me. Not you, I’m sure.
Love is the linchpin that holds us all together. That’s why Peter reminds us that as Christ’s followers, love is what we are to strive for “above all.” But look again. This is not just is not the run-of-the-mill love we have for our favorite brand of ice cream. It’s not even the kind of deep love we feel for the people who mean the most to us. This love, “covers a multitude of sins” and shortcomings and heartache. Peter is reminding the Church of the first century to mirror Christ’s love, demonstrated most profoundly by His sacrifice on the cross. In Christ, we are a new creation, and as such, we ought to seek to live like one—free from the bondage of sin and shame.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin (Romans 6:6–7).
The center of Peter’s letter—of the entirety of God’s Word, really—and of our faith is this gospel truth. Christ’s abundant love, manifested in His sacrifical life, death, and resurrection, covered my sins. It covered yours. This is the gospel, in its boiled down, beautifully simple form. Love is the bottom line.