I John 4:18b
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. NIV
Fear has to do with punishment … now that’s one to ponder.
My concordance translates the word “fear” here as, “fear, terror, respect, reverence.”
As I think about fears that I’ve faced in the past, they almost wholly deal with what might happen. One of the most important days of the last two years for me was when I heard Beth Moore say, “What IF” is an acronym. “What I Fear.”
But, I honestly never consciously linked my fears to punishment … more just to bad outcomes over which I would have no control.
The Message paraphrases this, “Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love.” MSG
Fear is crippling … that’s so interesting to me.
Throughout my life, when things have happened that have transformed the life I thought I was going to have into something different … when, if you will, my dreams were crippled … I found myself fearful, and worried.
But, this verse clearly says that our fears are crippling … not our circumstances. I had always seen the circumstances as the causes of my fears … this verse challenges me to turn that thinking upside down.
A fearful life is one not yet fully formed in love.
Verse 16 says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.” MSG
When we first moved into our neighborhood, we rented a row house across the street. A lovely couple — friends of friends — had bought a house and needed to sublet the row house they were renting for the reminder of their lease. We were moving back here after some time away, and their row house was in a part of town near our friends and our church and so we arranged to take over their lease.
After we moved in, I grew to love the neighborhood, but, I didn’t feel as though I really lived here … I was only sub-letting. I came to long to live in this neighborhood, and sometimes, I would even say it out loud, “I wish we lived here.” My husband teased me mercilessly about this. “We do live here!” He would say.
When we bought our house and moved our things across the street, I began to feel at home. My husband will still say that he’s lived in this neighborhood for 11 months longer than I have.
A fearful life is one not yet fully formed in love … We can take up permanent residence in a life of love … Perfect love drives out fear.
I’m a permanent resident in this house. I am a permanent resident in the family of God. I am called to live a life of love … and there is no room for fear in love.
That’s what I’ll think about today.