18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4:18-19
God created us with the capacity to fear because it is necessary for our protection as we live in this world. Sensible fear can motivate us to stay away from dangerous things; it can cause us to move quickly in dangerous situations. Fear protects us - when it is controlled and expressed in appropriate situations.
Uncontrolled or irrational fears control us. They darken our lives and stunt our spiritual growth. It is these fears that are addressed in this verse. In my experience, these irrational fears can be broken down into two categories - fear of something happening to us or our loves ones that is challenging to deal with or walk through, and fear of man.
Many of us live with the fear that something dreadful may happen to someone we love - for example, when our children don’t answer that text or when they make a poor decision, we begin to imagine the worst possible scenario. Our minds have the ability to imagine the most difficult of circumstances, and we spend an incredible amount of time and energy in life fearing something that may never happen. Our response to these “what if” fears is control - if we can control the circumstances around our fears, we can rid ourselves of the fears that plague our minds. These fears are usually easily identifiable - we know they exist and can describe them well, but we rationalize our response because we’re just trying to protect.
The fear of man is much more subtle and often very difficult to identify, but this fear impacts our decision making on a daily basis. From what we put on in the morning, to what we drive or where we live, to our jobs, to how we live our lives, fear of what other people think controls our behavior. Fear of man impacts our relationships - past damaging experiences can color how we view current relationships, and they can cause us to respond in a way that guards our heart from allowing true love to enter. Our sense of accomplishment and purpose in life is so closely tied to what other people think that it can be nearly impossible to separate. Even when it would appear our desire is spiritual, it can be deeply intertwined with the approval of others.
This verse reminds us that there is no fear in perfect love. Nothing should be driving our behavior except for the perfect love of our Father - everything we do should be pleasing only to Him. Many of us are so far from this marker, but it should serve as a constant reminder to think about everything you do throughout your day, and ask yourself about the motivation of your actions. The reality is that if fear exists in your life, it is sin. Fear denies the existence of our Father in heaven, and places all of our trust in worldly things. When we put all of our trust in our Father in heaven, in the sovereign King of the Universe, who knows all, sees all, and controls all things for our good, we find ever lasting peace.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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