“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Pet. 4:8-9).
Love covers a multitude of sins. You know that love also must confront some sins, but here we are taught that there are crowds of sins that love simply covers. Love overlooks many sins. And the next verse suggests that many of those sins must be covered in the context of hospitality – and think of hospitality broadly as loving those in your own home as well as those you welcome into your home.
The opposite of covering multitudes of sins in love is grudging. The same word could be translated murmuring or complaining or grumbling. If you are faced with the kind of sin that requires you to cover it with love, then you must do so gladly, cheerfully, not grumbling all the way to bed.
But how can you do that when the dinner guests were rude? How can you do that when your spouse wasn’t as helpful as you hoped? The only way to love others in Christian love is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
In another place, Paul says, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God for Christ’s sake forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
This table is the hospitality of God in Christ. Here, God welcomes you week after week, and he does so gladly. And, not to put too fine a point on it, he does so, covering multitudes of sins. We confess the sins we know about throughout the week and at the beginning of the service, but the promise is always that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness – not some, not most, all. We confess the sins we know about, and God in His kindness and tenderness welcomes us to His table, covering us in the blood and righteousness of Jesus, covering us in His love.
And God does not grudge filthy sinners who are hungry for his grace. He is not murmuring or complaining or grumbling about all the sins remaining in us. God loves to forgive, and God loves to cover our sins – because both display the goodness and glory of Christ. Christ died for sinners. That’s why we’re here. And when we get to cover the sins of our spouse, our children, our parents, our relatives, our neighbors, or dinner guests, we get to do the same. The death of Christ paid for all our sins, and that grace is now free: free for us and free to share.
So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.