“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:7-8, ESV
“The time is near when all things will end. So think clearly and control yourselves so you will be able to pray. 8 Most importantly, love each other deeply, because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins.”
1 Peter 4:7-8, NLT
Same verse, but two translations. There is a need for urgency, an intense decisiveness that needs to be woven into our lives. Peter understands this. He engages the church with a deep pressing. He carries a cruciality and a demand due to the imminence of the return of Jesus. Clear thinking and self-control are our basic responses to His arrival. Buttressing and enhancing our faith with these will reward us profoundly.
The Bible clearly teaches us of the sudden and imminent return of Jesus Christ. And yet, in spite of this solid reality, we repeatedly struggle, and short-circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls. We might be just sabotaging the Kingdom unintentionally. If we keep “looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along,” couldn’t the opposite be just as true? (2 Peter 3:12.) Might we ‘delay’ His return by our disobedience? (Just thinking out-loud here folks.)
Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent (Christmas), there are eight which look forward to His second coming!
As we try to wrap our minds and hearts around this blazing reality, we must also deal with our personal disobedience. Often there is a ‘co-morbidity’ to deal within our own sin. What I mean is that sin and rebellion develop in our hearts in “layers.” Seldom do you just deal with one issue. It’s more like a “gang” tackle, followed with a “monkey pile.” Sin isn’t just an act– it is a jumble– a way of living.
The two keys to really understand this passage– energetic prayer, and a covering love.
This new intensity and clarity in our thinking affects our “prayer life.” We see things differently, and we pray for things alertly. We start “reading between the lines.” We examine everything, looking for clues. We are to grow “sleuthy,” observant detectives watching everything. A widening of the pupils, inflections of the voice, someone’s posture, a way they use/choose their words– we are being trained to see, inside.
There is a form of love called “agape.” It is to define us, and we operate out it. This agape is amazing. It is a love that is destined to suffer, and die for the one being loved. It covers, and protects. When it is present, it will choose to cover the sin that it encounters. Agape is the way God treats us. It is now how we grow up and to treat others. Incidentally, it has very little to do with emotion– maybe in a secondary way.
This idea of “love as a covering” is pretty amazing. Implementing it will alter all that it touches. And seeing alertly will bring an exceptional discernment to all we touch. We each have two needs.
The first is for forgiveness.
The second is to be changed for the better.