Now, more than ever before, current events remind us that we are living in the last days.
The events of this past week have pointed to Bible prophecies concerning the progressive lifestyles of sin (2 Timothy 3:1–4) and the oblivion of and disregard for God’s judgment (Matthew 24:37–39).
As we know, Scripture gives us many admonitions for these last days: We are to contend for the faith (Jude 3). To preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). To witness to the lost (Matthew 24:14). To be sober–minded (1 Peter 4:7). To watch with prayer (1 Peter 4:8).
But there is one command that many of us forget. This command is expressly given in relation to the last days. And it is specifically stated to be an issue of vital significance. Tragically, it is often neglected.
But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.—1 Peter 4:7–8
For years, I have pled with many brethren to have a spirit to labor together for the gospel (Philippians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 3:9).
Recent events, particularly last week’s court ruling, emphasize that there never has been a more needful time to stand together for truth.
But 1 Peter 4:8 brings it up a notch in that we are not only to stand together, but to do so with love one for another—fervent love.
The word charity in the verse above immediately calls to mind 1 Corinthians 13, which details what biblical charity looks like and how it is expressed.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.—1 Corinthians 13:4–7
Now, reread that description, maximizing each point to its fullest application—making it fervent charity.
That is the love we are commanded to have for one another in these last days.
I’m deeply concerned that even as we know the return of Christ to be drawing near, we are willing to be embroiled in peripheral issues that are rooted in pride and amount to personality battles and turf wars. Rather than having the love that blinds us to “the multitude of sins” of one anther, we take delight in exposing shortcomings and differences. (Obviously, I’m not speaking here of moral sin, crimes, or doctrinal deviation.)
To make matters worse, we go public on social media, on websites, and in print with our “friendly fire.” We draw lines and call sides when we should be forming rank as soldiers together.
Please understand, this is not to say that no truth but the gospel message itself matters. The entire Bible matters. We are to preach and stand by the whole counsel of God.
But it is to say that if our attitudes toward one another are not expressed by the fervent charity that
- Is patient,
- Is kind,
- Doesn’t envy,
- Doesn’t boast,
- Isn’t lifted in pride,
- Doesn’t behave in a way that is unbecoming to a disciple of Christ,
- Doesn’t seek a personal agenda,
- Is not easily provoked,
- Doesn’t assume the worst,
- Doesn’t rejoice in the sins of others,
- Rejoices in truth,
- Is willing to bear the shortcomings of others,
- Believes the best of others,
- Hopes for growth in others,
- And endures until that growth comes
…then we are failing to obey the direct command: “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves.”
And if there was ever a time that we needed this level of charity, it is today. May we strive together for the faith of the gospel.