Devotion #163

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

One of the reasons why so many professing Christians struggle with fear is because their lives are not devoted in love to the salvation of the lost and to the glory of God. They lack confidence in God’s protection and sovereignty because their devotion is focused on providing earthly security and comfort for themselves and their families. Loving those in our lives with a perfect love does not just include those earthly comforts. It is so much more. Loving others with a perfect love has an eternal focus.

When we try to say that we are indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, and yet we do not devote our lives to the eternal good of other people, there is a deep contradiction within us. When we pick and choose who we want to love based on some set of earthly value of comfort, or how and when we want to show our love based on some standard we have chosen, a conflict is created within our souls because we were created to love. A spirit lives within us that desires to love all people. We were created to live at peace with everyone—not just the ones we’re comfortable with, who agree with our views or live by our standards. And when we rally against how we were created by deciding who and how we should love, a struggle is created within our souls. When our focus is on earthly treasures, be it in relationships or material possessions, and not on serving and loving others well, a conflict is created deep within us. This inconsistency within us chips away at our confidence and leaves us feeling weak and inauthentic. This is where fear begins. Living outside the parameters for which God created us will dissolve our confidence and increase our anxiety because we have taken the reigns from our Creator. 

John wants us to understand in this passage that fear and love are inextricably linked—at least in our own power. When your life is poured out in service of others, when your focus is on the eternal good of people, when you actively work to love as He loved us, you have a deep peace of mind and a glorious hope that is beyond our own comprehension and capability to conjure. But when you choose to love as you feel is appropriate or necessary, when you set boundaries around who and how you will love those in your life, that peace dissipates, and into the gap steps fear.

Fears are a focus on self. They are fixated on what will or won’t happen to you, what you can and cannot do to fix the looming problem. Even when your fears are about another person, your child or your spouse, they are still focused on your response to the problem. When your heart is seized in fear, you lose the ability to focus on others. You lose the ability to see others with an eternal perspective, you lose your focus on the greater good, you forget your purpose here on earth. The longer you hold on to the fear, the more it blinds you. You simply cannot love others well if your heart is controlled by fear—that’s why the greatest remedy for our anxiety is to love and serve others. When your life is devoted to the service of others, our focus on ourselves is minimized and our fears diminish. 

Your fears are indicative of where you have taken control away from God, and they will impact your ability to love your spouse well. Refresh your heart with the perfect love that casts out fears by opening Scripture today and listening. Focus on serving your spouse well today, and you will begin to see those fears diminish.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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