God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:16-19).
One of the deepest meanings of freedom for me is to be free from fear. Often, people fear what lies beyond or outside of us. But at one point or another in our lives, the struggle we face is overcoming what lies within.
Doubt. Guilt. Insecurity. Fear that we will fall short, that we will be irrelevant, that we will not be able to bear a credible enough witness to the Christ we profess. These visit us in different seasons. As a working mother, pastor’s wife, and ministry team member, there are still moments when fears like these cast shadows on my heart. Ironically, these shadows are borne out of something good — a deep desire to please those whom I love and pursue a purpose I believe in.
In the midst of this, God’s Word offers a tender and yet powerful reminder. 1 John 4 points to the true gospel about who God is, what he has done, and what that means for us as his children. Verses 16–18 mention God’s perfect love—a love that we can rely on; one that inspires confidence; a love that drives out fear. Verse 19 goes on to mention that we love because he first loved us.
It is in this premise of perfect love that we find our freedom. Rather than focusing on failure and judgment, we can embrace the freedom to be relentless and joyful in pursuing God’s call of loving one another, to nurture untiringly at home, to serve generously in our churches, to minister compassionately in our communities. We can keep going, certain that even in times when we are seemingly “not enough,” we need not fear because God’s love endures.
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–thank you for the bold gestures and gentle whispers of love that you surround us with. Continue to replace our fear with confidence in who you are, and out of that confidence, help us to love and serve generously as you have done.
By Joyce Tolentino