Devotion #161

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

When fear is left unchecked, it can destroy a marriage. It opens the door for the enemy to step in and convince us we should be in control. As we become consumed with our desire to minimize our stress, the enemy uses these fears to steal our joy and cause division. Priorities suddenly shift, decisions are impacted, and unity is diminished. We look to our spouse for assurance or to join us in the frenzy, then we grow frustrated at their inability to assuage our anxieties. 

Biblically facing anxiety starts with identifying your fear and understanding the source. Most fears can be broken down into two categories—fear of something happening to us or our loves ones and fear of man.

Many of us live with the fear that something dreadful may happen to us or to someone we love—when our spouse doesn’t answer a text or when there is the possibility of a health concern, we begin to imagine the worst possible scenario. Perhaps our fears focus on the financial instability of our employment or they focus on infidelity concerns. Our minds have the ability to imagine the most difficult of circumstances, and we let these fears run away in our minds. When fear has our heart in its grip, we spend time and energy fearing something that may never happen. Our response to these “what if” fears are 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 Godly, they can be deeply intertwined with the approval of others.

Start by identifying your fear, then consider how it impacts your marriage. If you are unsure, ask your spouse. Naming your fear and understanding how the enemy is using it to cause division are the first steps in overcoming your fears. Then you need to determine to change your thinking—you have to make the choice to fill your mind with His perfect love instead of your fears.

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 far from this mark, but it should serve as a constant reminder to consider the motivation behind your actions throughout your day. How much does fear impact your conversations and your decisions? Irrational fear denies the existence of our Father in heaven as it places 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 perfect love.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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