18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us.
• 1 John 4:18-19
If you’ve heard Christians speak, you’ve probably heard a paraphrased portion of 1 John 4:18 – “Perfect love casts out fear.” Someone may have prayed it over you. You may have even prayed it over yourself.
Here’s what I’ve most often seen – a man or a woman confesses to another of their struggle with fear and/or anxiety. Often, these crippling feelings stem from a fear of another’s opinion. The praying person will then verbally claim this truth to encourage his brethren. “God, your word says, ‘Perfect love casts out fear,” they’ll say. “We pray that Your Spirit would flood my sister, washing away her fear in Jesus’ name! Amen.”
As I studied this passage this week, the Holy Spirit granted me a deeper revelation. To petition God for more of His love to commandeer our fear isn’t John’s instruction. John does instruct that God is love – but He’s already displayed the highest proof of His love through the life of his son Jesus; and by giving us His Spirit. His Spirit then translates God’s love into our hearts to enable us to love others.
But if we fear others’ opinions, we do not love them. Essentially, our fears are an obstruction of the flow of love – not for ourselves, but for others. But it hurts us, too!
Well, what is the solution? We already have it! Love!
Jesus gave us His Spirit. His Spirit is proof that Love already lives in us. So just because we may not feel love for another person, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Our love account may feel empty. But it isn’t, because Jesus’ sacrifice deposited a limitless supply. We must trust in that truth. Thus, as we trust, and actively love others, despite our fears…we will consequently cast away fear. Until one day, we are made perfect in love.