Are You Living Out Of Fear Or Love?
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. 1 John 4:18
“More, more!” Ellie's smoothie cup is full, but the straw is turned the wrong way and none is coming out. I move over to take it out and flip it around for her and she shrinks back clutching her smoothie cup and shrieks, “No no!” She thinks I'm taking away her drink. She thinks I'm trying to take away something good, that maybe I am just a mean person who gives and takes away. I remind her I love her and I want to help her drink more. I explain to her that I’m taking away her cup to give her more, and show her the full pitcher of smoothie and gesture what I’m intending to do with her cup. She lets me take her cup.
Living Out Of Fear
I do this same thing with God. If I’m feeling a little sick or did not sleep well the night before either because of lingering insomnia or a two year old who still wakes up at night, waking up is not just a physical struggle but a mental struggle. And this is pretty much every day. Little E helps me out with the physical part of it—she will either cry louder and louder til I come get her or walk to my bed side and plead, “Get up, Mama, get up!” Then I need to struggle to have joy for the events of the day.
I fear I won’t have enough energy to do the things I need and want to do.
I fear I will be battling a constant headache from lack of sleep or the sore throat will turn into a more debilitating sickness.
I fear that the things that need to happen depend on me, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed.
1 John 4:18 from above says that perfect love casts out fear. Love pushes back fear, just as turning on a light in a dark room extinguishes the darkness. Fear has to do with punishment, like I still need to pay for my sins, like life still depends on me and I need to work to prove myself worthy.
Living Out Of Love
Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. What would my day look like if I woke up with a headache and all I want to do is crawl back into bed, but listened to God’s voice of love?
Love tells me it’s okay if I don’t have enough energy for my own to-do list. God gives me everything I need to live the life He set for me: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Love tells me not to worry about a spiraling sickness but to set my hope on Jesus: “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 (NLT)
Love tells me God is in control. He is fully competent to take care of His creation, and He fully loves me and values me just because I am His: “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7 (ESV)
There is a difference between living in fear and living out of love. All of the fear statements start with “I fear,” but all of the love statements start with “love tells me.” Fear depends on me. This is not only isolating, but it is paralyzing because it separates me from my God, the true source of my joy and strength.
When I listen to love, when I remember that love, who is God, actually died on my behalf and gave me His Spirit so that I would no longer fear death, nor anything else in this world. If I am living out of love, then I am living in Christ and out of the eternal Holy Spirit. There is no room for darkness in a room full of light. The dark fear simply goes away without a struggle and only light is left.
I remember Ellie and her smoothie cup and think, am I trusting my Father, that He is good? That He does all things out of love? Am I living in fear of Him or out of love? I may have to ask myself this question twenty times during the day, but every time I choose love, I choose to give my empty cup back to Him to refill.
Are you living out of love or fear?
How can you remind yourself you are loved?