7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.~ 1Timothy 4:7-8
What does it mean for “love to cover a multitude of sins”? Does it mean one of the following?
- Love prevents you from seeing or noticing sins at all?
- Love allows you to see sins, but you overlook/ignore them?
- Love allows you to see sins, but you forgive them?
- Something else?
Love certainly does not mean ignoring sins or not noticing them at all. It is unloving for us to notice a fellow Christian living in sin and not help them. And when they sin against us, we are not to act like nothing happened in all cases, but we are to confront them Biblically when appropriate.
R.C. Sproul Jr. wrote an excellent article on the subject here. In summary, he said:
When we are wronged our calling is to practice a careful moral calculus. Is this offense one I should let go of? Is it among the multitude that love covers? Or is this offense grievous enough that love means confronting in grace my brother? Sadly what we usually do is think we are practicing the former while actually holding grudges and putting miracle-grow on roots of bitterness. Peace in the church calls us to under-accuse, over-repent and over-forgive. Let us not be afraid to call sin sin, but let us not be slow to forgive it and to look past it.
There are cases where we are to overlook. If they were inconsiderate and bothered us, in many cases it is better to simply overlook and move on. But if the sin is greater, then we should confront them using the model presented in Matthew 18:15-19. In all cases, we should have an attitude of forgiveness towards them, willing to forgive the wrong when they ask for forgiveness.