The Apostle Peter makes a profound statement in his first letter that should have a penetrating application to every marriage. It’s a general exhortation to fellow believers: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Surely that touches powerfully on the relationship between a husband and wife. There is not a couple on the planet that is without sin. It happens. It happens in marriages. But the Bible calls us to cover it – to forgive, to not remember, to let it go, to not hold it over the other’s head. Here’s what makes a successful marriage.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
—1 Peter 4:8
What makes a successful marriage?
Yes, love will sometimes move us to confront our spouse with humility, patience, and a desire to help, not to condemn. But the bottom line is that love will do with our sinning spouse what Jesus’ love does with each one of us. It covers a multitude of transgressions.
First Corinthians 13:5 says the same thing with different words: “(love)…does not take into account a wrong suffered.” The word for “wrong” here is the word for “evil.” It’s a strong word. We’re not talking about a little goof-up. This has to do with outright sin. What do we do with that?
Love makes a successful marriage.
Love demands that we don’t keep a record of wrongs. We don’t put it down on our spouse’s ledger sheet. We don’t keep score. Wrongs will happen in a marriage, but love works at not keeping track of your spouse’s sins. And we’re talking here about sins—transgressions of God’s law; those things that, were it not for the sacrifice of Christ, would keep us out of heaven forever!
Now, if love behaves that way with regard to actual sins, then what about those little aggravations, irritations, and frustrations that too often eat away at the joy and delight that should mark our marriages as followers of Jesus?
Are we quick to cover them or are we quick to uncover them, point them out, dwell on them, keep track of them, and let them kill our joy and delight in one another?
You know the kinds of things I’m talking about. And it’s more than the toothpaste tube or the roll of toilet paper. It’s how you load the dishwasher, if you load the dishwasher, where you leave your dirty clothes, mumbling from behind your screen, tapping your fingers on the table, not listening when it looks like you are, forgetting that one thing you were told 10 times, leaving water all over the vanity top, and on and on. Those things bug you, right? But the question is what do you do with them?
Because love covers a multitude of sins.
All too often we let them simmer on the back burner until they finally boil over into ugly words, impatient looks, cold shoulders, and generally shut down. What happened to the love that covers a multitude of transgressions? Is it somehow not sufficient to cover a multitude of irritations? Is the love that really forgives actual sins stymied by a pair of socks on the floor? And if so, is that really love?
Somehow, we find it selfishly satisfying to hang on to those nagging frustrations. It gives us one-up on our spouse. It makes us better, if only in our own eyes.
That is not the way love works. Biblical love is always seeking the good of the object loved. Instead of those irritations fueling our selfish record-keeping they need to become the trigger of real, covering, forgiving, accepting, overlooking love.
Let them become reminders that we are called to love as Jesus did. Let that first rise of irritation give rise to the first hint of a love that will move quickly to cover that source of frustration. Your spouse’s ledger book should be clean, not because he or she has done so well, but because you have done what love demands and overlooked, forgotten, and covered a thousand little irritations.
Grace Marriage Mission
What’s one thing for which you need to forgive your spouse? Seriously, let it go. Don’t bring it up again. When you feel like saying something about it, don’t. Pray about it. Watch God work instead.