“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
It’s human nature to love those who love us, and to be kind to those who are kind to us. But what about when someone mistreats or provokes us? We said last time that loving one another is a command to obey, not a feeling to follow. Let’s be honest—that’s hard to do when we’ve been wronged in some way. But just because loving one another can be difficult doesn’t mean we can’t do it; and today’s verse tells us how.
The key word in this verse is fervent. Picture a runner, pushing to give every last ounce of energy as he crosses the finish line. His leg muscles are taut and stretched to their limit. That’s how Christians should love one another. Fervent love gives of itself completely, even when it seems we’re stretched to our limits to do so.
Keep in mind, we don’t love one another for one another’s sake, but because “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Loving one another as God has loved us is a recurring theme in Scripture (John 13:34, 15:12). And God loves us fervently. On the Cross, Jesus gave Himself completely on our behalf; knowing all the while that we would sin against Him. Nothing is more humbling than a clear understanding of God’s love. When our faithfulness wavers, His love remains steadfast.
Why do we struggle to love one another fervently? Well, we tend to focus more on the person who wronged us than on God and His Word. As a result, we think more about how we’ve been hurt than how God wants us to respond. But the more we focus on Jesus, recognizing how He loves us, the more humble and forgiving we become.
Have you been deeply wounded by a fellow believer? Your pride will say, “He doesn’t deserve your love.” Be careful—that’s an emotional response. Giving in to those initial feelings requires no spiritual discipline or growth. Resisting that temptation, however, requires us to stretch our spiritual muscles. What does fervent love look like in your current situation? Are you willing to give of yourself completely—not for the other person’s sake but in obedience to God?