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
What is perfect love? The words just before this verse say, "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us." God is perfect love, and we’re told when we abide in God and God abides in us, love is perfected in us.
To understand how to have His love perfected in us, we need to be sure we have a clear understanding of abiding. In the vine and branches analogy of John 15, we learn that abiding in Jesus means to keep his commandments, and to keep his commandments means to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
When we are abiding in Him, we are being obedient to His Word, and when He is abiding in us, His Word is stored in our hearts. We are in tune with Him, our thoughts are turned toward Him, we feel His presence.
But letting His words abide in us isn't just reading scripture or listening to a sermon on the weekends, it means so much more than that. It is intentionally seeking the Word of God as living and responding to it by applying it to our lives. It means we do everything we can to allow His living Word to impact our lives, our relationships, our emotions.
So, God’s love is perfected in us as we are obedient to His commandments and as we allow His Spirit to live in us - as we love each other. So "perfect love" is the love of God expressing itself in our love to each other. The love we show others should be filled with the mercy and grace He shows us, it should be full of forgiveness, and it should cast out fear. Think of the most difficult relationship you have in your life right now - does perfect love describe your relationship? How can YOU change that?
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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