An Act of Will
1Peter, chapter 4, verse 8: Love covers a multitude of sins.
How does love cover sin? Hatred, for example, damages the object of our hatred but it also damages us. Love isn’t an emotional, touchy-feely thing (except on Valentine’s Day); it’s an act of the will. Our will. God’s will.
Anger is a secondary result; hurt is the event that causes the anger. Search your memory for anger you’ve felt against others or the anger someone may have felt toward you. Under that anger, we’ll find the core of the matter – someone has been hurt, in whatever manifestation (physically, emotionally, psychologically, to name a few).
Sometimes the Bible’s teachings get presented to us in the most unlikely places. When it happens, we’re often surprised, if not shocked – television, in this particular instance, is very ‘worldly’, very secular, very topical – and yet, because we are spiritually attuned, we recognize the teaching.
Case in point – The Walking Dead. My husband, because he has no interest and can’t see beyond the zombies, tries to ‘guilt’ me into not watching the program. He says, “That’s a fine thing for a Christian lady to watch!”, meaning it’s anything but ‘fine’. But he can’t see what I see. There is a very moving – and instructive – scene wherein a man, Tyrese, who has been insanely angry about the murder of his girlfriend, comes face to face with the person who killed her, the character Carol. After Carol explains to Tyrese why she killed the girlfriend, Tyrese has a moment in which he is ready to kill to Carol for what she has done. And then, his heart breaks away from the anger and hatred. He looks at Carol and says, “I forgive you”. It’s a breath-taking moment and one I’ve thought about often. Tyrese ‘wills’ himself to forgo retaliation; he wills himself to not hate Carol; he wills himself to not be damaged by his hatred nor to damage Carol in his hatred for her. He forgives her.
That’s how love covers sins. It’s wrong to hate people – it damages them and it damages us. But by love, which is the spring of all good things, whatever sins Tyrese carries, and whatever sins Carol carries – and by extension, whatever sins we carry – are covered when we love first and then forgive.
This is not easy. It’s hard work to correct ourselves when we see our faults. It’s a massive work to love. It’s an act of will.