Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
In Genesis 3, we are introduced to the concept of sin when Adam and Eve partake of the tree in the Garden from which God had specifically told them not to eat. Shortly after, Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden and hide among the trees. God calls to them, “Where are you?” Adam answers, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so, I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10
Adam and Eve’s sin caused a brokenness in their relationship with their Creator. They were “afraid” because of their nakedness. Their sin had left them exposed and vulnerable, and their pure relationships with God and one another became tainted by fear. Oh, how easily I identify with Adam and Eve. Too often, in my own life, I have violated God’s word (through selfishness, greed, anger, unforgiveness, etc.) and been left feeling exposed and afraid.
After disciplining their sin, because he loved them, God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. The Hebrew word for clothing in Genesis 3:21 is “kethoneth,” meaning “to cover.” Adam and Eve had to face the reality of their sin, however, God did not want them to live in the “shame” their transgression had caused; therefore, He covered them. God’s action here is a beautiful foreshadowing of what He did for all humanity through His Son, Jesus – He became our covering. His perfect love covered over our dishonor, indignity, and fear. As Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In 1 Peter, we are admonished to follow Christ’s example to “cover” the offenses of others by our love. We are not to condemn or shame, we are to “cover.” Cover is not equivalent to “hide.” God did not hide Adam and Eve’s sin; rather, He covered the vulnerability and shame their sin exposed, protecting their honor and dignity as His beloved children.
In a culture so focused on taking offense, the concept of covering over offenses seems foreign. However, we are called by God to be different, set apart, and holy. We are called “a chosen people, a holy nation, God’s special possession” so that we might proclaim the praises of Him who called us from darkness into His light. For we are the people of God, and we have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10). As Christ’s Church, let’s not be quick to wear offenses, like the world around us, but let’s be quick to cover offenses so the world may know us by our love.
– Suzanne Manning, Willow Ministries