When we avoid community, we may develop an inflated opinion of our own character. It’s easy to think we’re kind people when we’re not held accountable to others. It’s easy to think we’re always right when no one disagrees with us. Conversely, it’s in our relationships that our true selves are often revealed. When we’re actively involved in a community, we face hundreds of instances where we need to make choices. These choices either serve others, or they serve our own desires.
When Peter states, “Above all, keep your love for one another constant, because love covers a large number of sins” (1 Pet 4:8), he’s saying that choosing to love often sets all motives in the right place. It dispels our own pride and puts issues into perspective. When we are truly loving others, it’s not about our pride or “being right.” It’s about helping others grow in faith by using our God-given gifts.
Peter goes on to show just what this looks like: “Be hospitable without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it for serving one another, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as the oracles of God; if anyone serves, let it be as by the strength that God provides, so that in all things God will be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 4:9–11). When we love others and use our gifts for their benefit, our actions do more than serve the other. Since they find their origin in Christ’s love, they serve to honor and glorify Christ.
Living in community with others may often be difficult. We’ll meet with challenging people and situations that will require us to continually pray to the giver of gifts for renewed strength and the ability to serve. We’ll face conflict that needs to be met with wisdom and love. Through prayer and the work of God in our lives, we can love and serve others with the love of Christ.