Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
In my last devotion, we looked at Peter’s question regarding how often we should forgive those who trespass against us. Like most of us, Peter was most likely attempting to protect himself from people who would take his forgiveness as a vulnerability. While his question was both understandable and valid, there remains a deeper question that we should resolve. Why should we forgive? What is the motivation behind our acts of forgiveness? The answer to this is love. We should forgive because of love. Love must be the prevailing force that fuels our forgiveness.
Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, don’t commit idolatry… etc. There are a number of commandments and laws that we are told to abide by in this journey of pleasing God. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, if not altogether impossible, to live up to all of them. Is there a way to fulfill all of these laws? Is there a method to this apparent madness? Yes, the answer is by loving God with all we’ve got.
In a discussion with a teacher of the law, Jesus noted that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). By highlighting this as the greatest commandment, Jesus was actually giving us the key to abiding by all the other commandments. His point was that a complete love for God would inform our worldview and inspire actions that line up with God’s will. A complete love for God drives us to tell the truth when it would be convenient to lie. A perfect love for God also compels us to forgive those who spitefully use us, hurt us, or take us for granted. We should forgive others because we love God with all our being and want to please him.
A Love for Our Neighbors
In the same passage of scripture, Jesus highlights a second connected commandment. It is the principle that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. These two commandments are connected to each other because a full love for God activates our love for ourselves and for our neighbors. This is what the scriptures mean when it says that on these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets. If we are loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, then it motivates a love for our neighbors, and thus fuels our ability to forgive them.
Christ’s love for God the Father spilled over into a love for all humanity and led him to shed his blood on the cross for our sins. It was this love that covered the multitude of my sins, your sins, and the sins of all humanity (past, present, and future). Likewise, our deep love for God should turn into a love for humanity. It is this love that can cover a multitude of sins. We should forgive because of love.
God, teach us how to love you how you have asked us to. Where our love for you has been partial, give us an obedient spirit to love you with all that we are. As you develop this love in and through us, thank you that it will inform our love for our neighbors. Let our love for you be the driving force behind our forgiveness. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.