“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. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” ~1 John 4:18-21
In relationships, romantic primarily but also platonic, we often have an element of fear entwined, which leads us to the anxiety, butterflies, and other similar apprehension so common to insecure situations. We fear that if we misspeak or fail to act in an expected manner, the other person will reject us. Although this is more of a secondary application of the above passage from 1 John, I believe that the other person’s rejection is the punishment linked to our fear. Consequently, we do not have perfect love, because we are convinced that their love is in some way conditional. And it may be.
I want this to be different in my life. To engage with others regardless of motivation (friendship, romance, ministry) in order to bless and love them, this is my desire. But I fear that without the reciprocal, I will find myself a mile or two down the road, stranded and hurt. Can I find my security and hope firmly in the Lord such that I may say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b)? In all honesty? No, I’m not there yet.
“Yet.” It is a word that indicates an unfulfilled, but eventual hope. Though the journey is ongoing, the destination has not been abandoned. By the grace of God and through the sanctification of the saints (Philippians 1:6), we can arrive at perfect love, which is anchored in God’s love for us (1 John 4:10-11). Then, fear will be no more. My security will not be in human hands, but in the Father, who is the essence of love. Then, I will be truly free to love without concern for someone’s response.
So what does this mean for today, tomorrow, and those in our lives? First and foremost, we must seek a supreme pleasure and joy in God. Our love for Him must outpace all others, and our sense of worth should be based on what He says of us, rather than anything else. I have to preach this to myself daily, even hourly, or else I will be swayed by my emotions, feelings and the world around me. Then, encourage one another with the same message and seek to love them with perfect love–fearless love. If God’s love lives in us, we will not fear uncertain situations. Rather, we will embrace them with His love and know that He holds all time and all people in His hands.