“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
What is love?
I’ve read plenty of opinions on this matter. There are a lot. Many of them contradict one another. Most of them aren’t Biblical. So, at the risk of adding just another voice to the constant clamor, and possibly making you roll your eyes and close out of this tab, I’m going to share my own thoughts. If you read through the whole thing, I’ll send you some virtual cookies and maybe even a glass of milk.
Over the past several years I’ve seen a lot of hurt. I’ve seen a lot of people who thought they were receiving love, only to find out they were wrong. I’ve also seen a lot of people who thought they were giving love, only to find out they, too, were wrong.
Why is it so complicated?
Simply put, we’re humans. Love doesn’t come naturally to us. We’d sooner eat cake and be showered with attention on our birthday than spend the day quietly and humbly helping others. But there’s Someone’s birthday we celebrate every year because His whole life was a life lived in love.
Jesus left His heavenly throne for the sole purpose of loving us to the furthest measures. He became a perfect man: manifested love, hope, grace, mercy, and everything else. He became the ultimate example of how a true follower of God should live.
When I want to know what love is, and what it looks like on a human level, I look to Jesus. He was everything love should be. He was gentle, He was kind, He blessed those who believed He was the Christ, and drew thousands into the arms of eternal life. The umbrella characteristic of all these things? He was selfless.
Love is selfless.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily-angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
I also believe that love is eternal. Either there is love, or there is not. God’s love for us measly human beings was so strong that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die that we might live. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we journey through this world with an eternal promise and hope of dwelling with our Lord forever. This, my friends, is definitely love, and oh what a glorious thing it is to know that God will always remain faithful.
Love is too easily attributed to a feeling, something that comes and goes depending on whether or not you are angry with the other person. But real love that is steadfast will, even in anger, remember the other person’s needs and meet them there. In a place where love truly reigns, each person will serve the other, and in so doing, each of their needs will be met. It’s beautiful.
A conflict dealt with in love is not about winning the conversation. It’s not about putting the other person down. It’s about reconciliation, about reminding each other that yes, we are human and mistakes happen, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. In Christ, conflict certainly isn’t glossed over, but it’s dealt with in a matter that puts the other above the self. Yet conflict is still scary, especially when it’s with a loved one, and that’s why the verse from the beginning of this post is so powerful.
“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. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19
Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love, there is no room for fear.