There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
1 John 4:18
Jesus’ disciple John has a total of 4 books with his name on them in the Bible, and each of these books has a common underlying thread and theme: love. The book of 1 John is an especially encouraging and uplifting experience of God’s love.
While an attitude of uncaring indifference is the opposite of love, fear and love are also opposites in many ways. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (wisdom, rationality). Anytime there is a sense of fear – dread from not knowing what is going to happen, feeling alone and afraid, or a sense of utter rejection with nowhere to turn – it doesn’t come from God. God is in control, will never leave you or reject you, and is always with you. Fear can implode you. Where fear exists, love is squelched. Where fear exists, control is gone. Where fear exists, rational thinking is pushed aside. There are very real health consequences of fear and it is a horrible feeling to live with. And it’s a feeling that’s more horrible to give than to receive.
There are people who create fear in others – maybe they realize it and perhaps they don’t. I would hope that anyone who instills fear in another through words or actions is doing it unintentionally, because I cannot fathom why someone would want to create a sense of fear in another human being – unless they are so insecure that they feel a need to share their negativity. Why would someone make a conscious decision to say or do something that would make another person feel insecure, fearful, and otherwise less than a valued human being? Is it for a sense of control, retaliation, or out of sheer disdain for someone else’s uniqueness? Why – since each of us is created in God’s image – would another person desire to instill fear and hurt others, especially if they claim to be God’s child?
There are people that do this. I trust that God will give me the grace to love them, forgive them, and care for them just as Jesus does likewise for me. For those I’ve hurt and not realized, I can only hope that they can find forgiveness for me. I know I’ve done it unintentionally and realized it after the fact – and had to apologize for the pain I caused and the hurt I felt in hurting them.
Perfect love casts out fear. Perfect love casts out pretty much everything negative, doesn’t it? Love can and will overcome, as Jesus set the example for us to follow Matthew 5:38-39 when He said, You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
So… bring on the words. Bring on the criticism. Bring on the obvious negativity – and I trust I will have the grace to turn the other cheek with a smile if it happens. Ouch. Not an easy example to follow!
And when we feel tempted to retaliate from those who make us fearful – or who make us question our worth and value – consider these words (and this is pointed at me): Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head (Romans 12:19-20).”
First John 4:16 points out that we need to be conscious of God’s love. It’s there for our taking! It needs to be more than just a biblical fact for us…we need to experience it daily. Grab and hold onto His LOVE. Hold it – and don’t let it go.
All fear = No love. All love = NO FEAR.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU.