1 John 4:18-19
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”
There are things of this life that can cause us to “fear” wreaking havoc on our bodies, our minds and spirits, even to the point of paralyzing us as to normal daily function. Fear is a real tool of our enemy as well, used to render us ineffective to serve the Lord and others with the unique gifts and talents we’ve been given by our Creator. Sometimes these fears are born out of experiences long ago, present fears of the unknown, or fears regarding one’s future. These fears can produce mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish in our hearts preventing us from experiencing completely, the gift of God’s love He has given us. The Apostle John explains to us, “There is no fear in love,” that is in God’s love, because His “perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” If you have fearful scars from long ago, present fears, or fears of the future which we know are not born of God’s love and often torment the soul, they must be turned over by faith into God’s perfect love, at which time these fears can begin to be disarmed in one’s life.
John continues, “But he who fears has not been made perfect in love,” revealing a heart that has not fully experienced God’s perfect love through true faith and understanding. The key to being delivered from fear is continuing to grow closer in a personal relationship with God, coming both to know and walk in His perfect love through a deeper understanding of that great love. The Apostle Paul writes, “No in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I am convinced that…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39), thus, allowing His truth and promises to drive out our fears. In response to “perfect love casting out fear,” famous theologian John Calvin writes, “It may, however, be asked, when does perfect love expel fear, for since we are endued with some taste only of divine love towards us, we can never be wholly freed from fear? To this I answer, that, though fear is not wholly shaken off, yet when we flee to God as to a quiet harbor, safe and free from all danger of shipwreck and of tempests, fear is really expelled, for it gives way to faith. Then fear is not so expelled, but that it assails our minds, but it is so expelled that it does not torment us nor impede that peace which we obtain by faith.” Calving is saying our most reasonable response to fear is to flee to our Creator in faith, worship and truth. Drawing near to the One who is our “Refuge and Strength in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1), our “safe harbor,” and the “shade at your right hand.” (Psalm 121:5) Our Lord is the ONE who gives us His peace that surpasses all understanding regardless of our circumstances.
Most importantly, we need not forget that true love began with God himself as John concludes, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God’s love to us is unconditional and was ultimately demonstrated by His free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Savior at the Cross. Therefore, we have the capacity to love God in return as well as to love others toward Him. The Lord can use His love to transform our fears into catalysts for change in our hearts, which causes us to become more desperate for Him, moving us beyond places of fear into places of “safe harbor” in His Perfect Love.
Father, thank You that Your love is perfect and is able to drive out our deepest fears. Let us draw nearer to You in full assurance of faith in Your unconditional and unfathomable love demonstrated to us through Your Son Jesus. May we stand in Your perfect love and unchanging truth when tempted to fear our circumstances or the things of this world. Continue to strengthen our faith through the promises of Your love for us and by the overwhelming sense of love from Your Spirit within us. Enable us to stand not in fear, but to stand Desperate in Your Perfect Love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.