There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Andy and I did not have the fairy tale dating experience. In fact, if we were to tell you our dating story, you might question the wisdom in us even getting married. After graduating from college and both of us working out of town for a period of time, we both landed back home in Memphis and after dating for six months got engaged. Our engagement was weird from the beginning and we broke up after 3 months. The break up left me absolutely reeling and asking many of the questions young, single women who want to be married often ask. Honestly, I had a little fear wrapped up in losing this relationship, as if Andy were the last man on earth. A little melodramatic, I know but that was where I was at that point in life. It was during that time I was introduced to 1 John 4:18.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
In the verses preceding this one, John discusses why Christians love and how that love relates to and comes from God. Verse 18 comes on the heels of John assuring his readers that because God is love and because in this world we are like Jesus, we, as believers, can have confidence on the day of judgment. For a believer, this is the confidence that God will approve and affirm us because of Jesus in us. God’s love for us is not based on what we do or how we act but rather on His Son living in us. Fear is an emotion we feel when we have done something wrong or when we carry guilt and we are afraid of the punishment we might receive due to our actions. God loves us with a perfect and complete love because of Jesus living in us meaning we do not have to fear judgment or punishment from God.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
When we continue to live in fear and are ruled by that fear, it may mean that we have not accepted God’s perfect love given to us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. When we know that we are perfectly loved by God and that His spirit lives in us and that we are forgiven for our sins, we can let go of the fear and dread of the future or what might happen in our lives. This is God’s love being perfected in us.
So, how do we apply this verse to our lives? When we are living a life characterized by fear and worry, we are living a life that is focused on self instead of being focused on God or even focused on the calling He has given us to love others. Fear tends to make us miserable and ineffective and oftentimes we feel stuck. This is how I felt when Andy and I broke our engagement. I did not know what the future really held for this relationship and as a result, I feared staying where I was but I also feared moving forward into the unknown. I was stuck and I was ineffective in almost every other area of my life. What I discovered when I read this verse is that God’s love for me pushes out my fears that I have on earth. While I understand that life on this earth will be far from perfect and there will be times when our circumstances seem to be more than we can possibly bear, I know there is more. I know there is a relief that comes from knowing I am loved by God with His perfect love. And while my life may not turn out according to my plan, I know that my life is secure in the hands of the Father.
What fears are you dealing with in your life? How does that fear keep you from living in God’s perfect love? I pray that you will name those fears and let God’s perfect love reign in your heart and in your mind so that your life can be made perfect in love.
◊ ◊ ◊
Nicole @nicolebaldridgedesigns has once again hand lettered our verse. Tomorrow we will have a lock screen image available for download.