Category Archives: I John

Perfect love drives out fear

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.




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Filed under Fear, I John, New Testament, Worry

It’s not about a check list

I John 4: 16b-17

God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us, so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  NIV

Whoever lives in love.

That’s a powerful image.

Especially when you link it to I Corinthians 13: 4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” NIV

For decades, I have recognized that Paul’s description of love is all about actions … being patient, showing kindness, being content with what you have, not calling attention to yourself, etc.

I confess however, that I saw those as discrete actions … almost like a to do list.  “I must be more patient!”  frequently tops that list.

But John calls us to live in love. “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.” MSG

Taking up permanent residence in a life of love is the difference between a check list, “Be more patient,” and a life view … living in patience.

I want love to have the run of my house, I want it to become at home and mature in me.

I’ll have to think about that today.


Filed under I John, New Testament, Worry

There’s no room for it

I John 4: 18a

There is no fear in love. NIV

This is one small part of a beautiful passage in I John that includes at least three reminders not to worry.  This verse caught my eye when I was reading the paraphrase of this passage in The Message this morning.  There, this sentence reads, “There is no room in love for fear.” MSG

There is no room in love for fear … I love that!

Many years ago, I moved from a large sunny apartment in the suburb of a big city, to a very tiny one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.  I knew that the space was roughly half the size of what I had, but, I’d done the math … everything would fit.  On the day the moving company came to pack my things, I asked them not to empty the drawers of my dresser, and just ship them full of clothes.  The mover wouldn’t do that.  The guy was completely box crazy.  He put everything I owned in big, bulky cardboard boxes.  I kept telling him that the new apartment was much, much smaller, but, he and his crew would not listen … they kept quoting “the rules.”  I found out later that my company paid the mover by the number of boxes shipped … it’s true that what gets measured and rewarded, gets done.

In any case, when we got to my new apartment, the movers set up my bed and moved in my furniture, which did all fit, except for three drawers of my dresser that wouldn’t open because they were blocked by the bed.

And then, they started bringing up all those boxes!  It was not part of their contract to unpack them, just to deliver them.  Box after box after box came through the door.  They stacked them everywhere.  On the bed, on the couch and in the kitchen.  At the very end, I was standing out in the hall as they put in the last boxes … stacked as tall as I am, in the foyer, with just enough space to open and close the door.

I literally put a litter box on top of one of the boxes, a bowl of food and a bowl of water behind the door, let my two cats out of their crate and locked the door.  I went back to temporary housing. There was no room in that apartment for me.

There is no room in love for fear!

In the same way that I could not have put even one more box into that apartment, God’s love is brimming over … there is no room for fear or for worry if we will allow ourselves to be filled with His love and with His Spirit and with trust for Him.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Fear, I John, New Testament, Worry