What does 1 Peter 4:8 mean?For the second time in this letter (1 Peter 1:22), Peter commands Christians to work hard at loving each other. The Greek word translated as "deeply," "earnestly," or "fervently" is ektenē, used to describe the muscles of an athlete straining to win a race. Peter writes that Christians should do this "above all." A follower of Christ must make demonstrating the love of Jesus to others his or her first priority. This is always a requirement, but especially crucial during seasons of suffering.
Loving each other is also a proper response to the realization that the end of all things is near, as mentioned in the prior verse. Knowing that the Day of the Lord could come at any time should cause believers to double down on our commitment to each other.
Finally, loving each other in this way covers a multitude of sins. We need to be careful with this statement. This doesn't mean that our acts of love for each other can earn God's forgiveness. Nor does Peter mean to imply that we are paying our sins off through good works. That would contradict what Peter and other New Testament writers clearly teach: that our sins are paid for by Christ's death on the cross, and forgiveness for sin comes only through trusting in Him.
Rather, the idea that our love for each other covers a multitude of sins relates to our imperfection. Christians are not yet sinless. We are not perfect. We have set the course of our lives away from sin, but we still fail to obey sometimes. We make mistakes, even when we mean well. Love for each other includes forgiving each other, overlooking past hurts, and building each other up when we fall. It is difficult for sin and resentment to flourish in a community rich in Christ-like love.