This verse has been swirling around my head for a week now so I thought I would share it:
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. 1 John 4:18
I never quite understood what this meant — I did understand from my own experience that “fear involves torment” – amen? But I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the meaning of the verse. As a person who struggled with fear, I asked myself – does that mean I don’t love?
What is perfect love? I finally decided that it meant that when I understood God’s perfect love for me, I would not be fearful because I would trust His care and provision for me. I do believe there is much truth in that.
But I think there is another very practical truth here. I remember this verse coming to life for me one day when I was in the midst of a season of anxiety and my husband and I were having brunch with his siblings and spouses. I was there and enjoyed (to some degree) our time but the anxiety – the physical symptoms and nagging anxious thoughts – were never far from the surface. As we left the restaurant it started to go from a 6-7 to an 8-9; I could feel it rising.
Within a short time on the drive home, John started to have a diverticulitis attack and we needed to make an emergency stop at a Walmart. When I realized the situation my anxiety went from an 8-9 to about a 5 because my love and concern for him overrode my love and concern for me. In a sense, love ruled over my fear. Love cast out my fear.
Love is bigger, stronger and more potent than fear. So in a practical way I learned a lesson that day. When fear beckons, it’s time to ask myself “What can I do right now to love someone else?” That thought is not original with me – I’m pretty sure it is from Ed Welch’s book – Running Scared (i). If you or someone you know struggles with fear – this is a great resource.
I hope you noticed my intentional use of the past tense in the third paragraph — “As a person who struggled with fear…” By God’s grace and His work of sanctification in my life I have grown immensely in this area and have, to a large degree, walked in freedom. Perfectly? No. But I would say that in God’s goodness I would no longer characterize myself as given over to fear.
Would you or those closest to you characterize you as a fearful person?
Fear is a thief. It robs you of joy, peace, rest, strength, faith and hope. Seek to learn of God’s perfect love for you and seek to actively love others in your most difficult moments.
I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
After serving 16 years full-time on the staff of America’s Keswick, Diane and her husband moved to North Carolina where she continues to serve part-time as a contributing writer and Partner Care Consultant. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
i Ed Welch. Running Scared: fear, worry and the God of rest. New Growth Press. Greensboro, NC. 2007.