1 Peter 4:7-10 "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."
Again, note the urgency. The end is at hand so we should do these things. Love is described two ways: as hospitality and as something that covers sins. Last time we looked at hospitality, so let's look at what it means to cover a multitude of sins.
First, it is not referring to covering up sins against God. Everything in the Bible teaches against that. Paul declares that the impenitent sinner is to be expelled from the church (1 Cor. 5:1-8). Clearly that is confronting sin, not covering it up. Jesus' letter to the church in Thyatira in Rev. 2:20 mentions that the only thing He had against that church was that they tolerated a false teacher. Obviously He had expected them to confront that sinner. Instead of covering sins up, we are encouraged to make great efforts to bring the sinner to repentance. Galatians 6:1 tells us to go to the sinner, 2 Thess. 3:15 tells us to admonish the sinner and James 5:19-20 speaks of converting the sinner. None of this is covering sin.
So, what does it mean that "love covers a multitude of sins"? Perhaps we should look at the proverb Peter was quoting: "Hatred stirs up strifes but love covers all transgressions" (Prov. 10:12). From this we see that while hatred is looking for ways to cause problems, love is looking to build the relationship; to build trust. Love overlooks, or covers, all the transgressions of the loved one against the lover. In other words, the sins covered by love are the offenses or transgressions my brethren perpetrate against me. If someone is rude to me it may not be sin in the evil-against-God sense, but I have still been offended. To transgress is to cross a line, which is instructive. If I love people, then when they cross a line with me, I overlook it.
Of course, sometimes the transgression is serious and needs to be addressed. Jesus gives us the method to do this in Matt. 18:15-17: "And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican." These are the rights of the offended brother with the goal always being to regain your brother. However, notice the seriousness of the consequences. If your brother is too stubborn to apologize and make things right, he can wind up cut off from the church. That means there can be eternal consequences for an offense which may not have been evil to begin with. As the offended party, were you hurt so badly as to chance that outcome, or will you allow your love for your brother to cover the transgressions? Paul teaches us that in order to keep the peace within the church we ought to be willing to be wronged, to let love cover those wrongs: "Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?" (1 Cor. 6:7)
Love covering a multitude of sins means forgiveness. We aren't keeping track of the transgressions to make use of later. Love "takes no account of evil" (1 Cor. 13:5). That phrase is actually the exact phrase used by first century Greeks to mean bookkeeping as in business. We forgive. We don't store up, but forgiveness must be genuine. If I forgive, but then refuse to speak to the offender I haven't really forgiven. If I forgive, but speak ill of or make sure to sit on the opposite side of the building or refuse all requests from, that isn't forgiveness. In those cases I'm not covering sins but quietly hoarding injustices to myself. If we can, we should always choose to overlook insults, but if the offense is too bad to cover, then we must use the steps Jesus gives in Matt. 18. These are the only two options given for Christians by God. Quietly stewing isn't an option.
"Love suffers long". Most offenses we deal with from our brethren are actually quite minor in reality but very annoying personally. If I love that brother, I put up with it. Maybe I address it, maybe not, but either way I love my brother. And remember, love "believes all things and hopes all things." I'm not going to assume my brother is out to get me, but rather is just innocently annoying.
Finally, allow me to let you in on a secret: we are all annoying. None of us is perfect in everything. YOU annoy someone greatly. God loves us despite our annoying tendencies and teaches us to love in the same way. One day the annoyances will be gone forever while "love never ends" (1 Cor. 13:8).