Devotion #160

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. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:18-19 ESV

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. When fear is controlled, when it is rational and expressed in appropriate situations, it can protect us.

On the other end of the spectrum are the uncontrolled or irrational fears that control us. These fears darken our lives and stunt our spiritual growth. These are the fears that consume our thoughts, but have no correlating action. There’s no protecting response to the fear. These are the fears that John is addressing in this verse. These are the fears that have been cast out by His perfect love

It’s hard to decipher when our fears move from sensible to unsensible because our irrational fears are typically born out of a rational fear. There is often a rational foundation for our irrational fears. Our sensible fears are justified—they are born out of a genuine need to protect ourselves from some danger, but they are also where our irrational fears begin to ruminate. Our rational fears become irrational when we continue to feed them past the point of action, when we continue to ruminate on them and there’s nothing we can do, when we continue to dwell on the many possibilities of danger and we’ve done all we can do to protect ourselves. It is in these subtle moments that our fears begin to control us. 

How do you know when your rational fears have shifted to irrational? Your fears control you when there is nothing you can do to change the situation. Fear was designed to make you act in a way that protects yourself. When a fear is realized, there should be an immediate action toward protection. What is your greatest fear today? If you’ve done what’s necessary to protect yourself, or if there is no action to take, then you should no longer be dwelling on the fear. This is the point it should be handed over to God. Sadly, this is the moment the enemy lures us into the temptation camp. We can’t let it go. We think if we hold on to the fear, we can control the situation…but what truly happens is the fear controls us.

These controlling fears can negatively impact our marriages. Fear is where the enemy moves in to divide and conquer. When one spouse is controlled by an irrational fear, it dominates conversations and impacts decisions. This takes a toll on the receiving spouse, breaks down communication, and causes relational strife. When our spouse is suffering, our initial desire is minimize the struggle. We want to help; we want to fix the problem. But when a fear becomes so ingrained in a person that they ruminate on it throughout the day, the receiving spouse cannot compete with these thoughts. The inability to quell the fear over time leaves the receiving spouse feeling helpless. Likewise, the growing, controlling fears leave the anxious spouse frustrated as the receiving spouse doesn’t prioritize the fear in the same way. 

Explore your mind today for uncontrolled fears. If there is darkness lurking, bring it into the light by asking yourself what action you can take to protect yourself. If you’ve taken the action necessary, then it’s time to lay down your fear before the Lord and trust in His sovereignty before that fear creates a foothold for the enemy to enter your marriage. If he’s already gotten in, confess your sin of fear to your spouse and to your God, and allow His love to fill your heart again. He is our refuge in times of trouble. He is our shield and our fortress. His love will protect you from any darkness this world has to offer, and allowing His love into your marriage will cast out the destructive nature of fear.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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