“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
It happened last Christmas. I was sitting at a table with my mother, brother and sister. Mom said, “Your sister got a text from Ann.* Her dad died.”
I sat quietly while my mind raced. I never told my family he had repeatedly abused me as a child. As a young adult, I used to dream about the day he died. I could spit on his grave or throw a party.
When my mother made the quiet announcement Christmas Day, I did not excuse myself to find a private place to dance in celebration. I didn’t feel anger, bitterness or resentment. In that moment, I knew God had healed my heart and freed me from the baggage of the past. I know now I have fewer years ahead of me than behind me. If I spend my time with rancor, malice, hate, outrage and indignation, I have less time and space in my heart for kindness, compassion, love, mercy and grace.
We always assume 1 Peter 4:8 is about Christ covering our sin with his sacrificial love. I think it is more about how we are to respond to transgressions against us. What God has done for us, he wants us to do for others. That kind of love is only possible through the power of Christ in us.
According to this verse, love is to be our priority. Let go of past grudges and bitterness. This Advent season, pledge anew to be compelled by the love of Christ. Celebrate the unconditional, everlasting, overwhelming, limitless love that restores the broken fragments of our lives.
Sandy Wisdom-Martin is the executive director-treasurer of national Woman’s Missionary Union located in Birmingham, Ala.