From Pastor’s Desk:
1 Peter 4:8 …above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (KJV) The NASB translates, “…keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
Peter may be referring to Proverbs 10:12 which says “…love covers all sins.” He uses for love, ἀγάπη agapē (ag-ah’-pay). It is said that this is Godly love. He uses “fervent” to describe the love we are to administer. Fervent, or ἐκτενής ektenēs (ek-ten-ace’), is intent…without ceasing.
Within his discourse of 1 Peter 4:8, Adam Clarke directs the reader to his remarks on James 5:20, which says, “…let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” His comment on this verse is, “Let him duly consider, for his encouragement, that he who is the instrument of converting a sinner shall save a soul from eternal death, and a body from ruin, and shall hide a multitude of sins; for in being the means of his conversion we bring him back to God, who, in his infinite mercy, hides or blots out the numerous sins which he had committed during the time of his backsliding. It is not the man’s sins who is the means of his conversion, but the sins of the backslider, which are here said to be hidden.”
In my opinion, Clarke is speaking primarily of soul-winning. He is going outside the parameter of the body of believers. In fact, it is to the body of believers to whom James is writing. Peter is also speaking to the body of believers. Encouraging them to love with fervency, or intensely, the gospel will be received only from those who exhibit an agape, or Godly, love.
Church, if we ever expect to win lost souls for Christ it must be done by loving them with God’s love operating within and through us. I have often said that the non-believer knows more how the church should live than the church does.
Love must be genuine. It must be fervent. The non-believer can tell the difference!