“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear.” – 1 John 4:18
Growing up, we were told “God loves you” but simultaneously heard “to fear the Lord,” which is naturally conflicting.
As a child, I was literally afraid of God as if I was going to make Him angry or be punished by Him every time I didn’t “behave” … I was fearful He wouldn’t love me anymore if I messed up.
Thankfully, I’ve grown in my faith and am beginning to have a greater grasp on the incredible love of God, as well as, a much healthier view of what it means to “fear” God.
But perhaps, you are like me and struggle with the balance of this concept too.
For starters, we have to redefine what we think it means to “fear” God.
In Everything Belongs Richard Rohr says,
True Religion is never about fear. It is always about moving beyond fear. Yet many of us were religiously trained to be comfortable with fear. Most of you reading this were given the quote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 111:10). We were taught “fear of God” as a virtue when we were small children. In fact, the word “fear” in both Psalms and Proverbs means the awe that small children have for someone they honor and respect. It is not the fear of being harmed, but the awe of reverence and honor for someone we look up to and are devoted to. That is a very different concept, and the English word “fear” doesn’t do it justice. To live in awe before God’s wonder is a virtue.”
We are to live in awe of God not afraid of God.
John continues …
“There is no fear in love. But perfect casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” – 1 John 4:18
Because God’s love is perfect, we don’t have to live in fear He won’t love us anymore if mess up.
God’s love for us has everything to do with who He is and nothing to do with how we behave.
Just a few verses before John reminds us to …
“know and rely on the love God has for us [because] God is love.”
Not God is loving, but God is love.
So do you know and rely on this perfect love of God?
If God is Love, by definition God is also …
He does not envy,
and does not boast.
His love is not proud.
He is not rude or self-seeking.
God is not easily angered.
He keeps record of wrongs.
God does not delight in evil.
But rejoices in the truth.
God’s love protects.
and is trustworthy.
In His love, we have hope.
and His love always perseveres.
God’s love never fails and He never fails.
Let that sink in.
God is patient and kind and does not keep a record of your wrongs.
He is not easily angered and His Love never fails.
So let me ask you again,
Do you know and rely on this perfect love of God?
Because if you are relating to God out of fear perhaps you are not really relating to the
Because perfect love casts out all fear.