“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
The Lord does not call us to a perfect life devoid of problems and difficulties. Rather, he desires that we experience the fullness of his presence and power in the midst of the many circumstances of life so that we can be effective and fruitful in our jobs, families, and communities.
Have you noticed that fear is on the rise? Given the challenges and issues facing our nation, many people are experiencing high levels of fear. The emergence of COVID variants, growing racial tension, intensified political division, conflicts in education, and economic uncertainty all contribute to an atmosphere of anxiety.
It is no surprise that many people are struggling with mental health issues. The severity of the mental health crisis is reflected in the skyrocketing number of suicides.
Into the midst of this era of anxiety and fear, the Lord proclaims a message of hope and healing: “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)
The word that John uses for “perfect” is the Greek teleios, and it conveys the idea of fullness rather than flawless. It means “whole and complete.” We could paraphrase the verse by saying “fear is cast out when your heart and mind are directed by the fullness of God’s love.” When God’s love fills your heart, there is no room for fear. Love says, “Pay attention to what matters, and do not be distracted by what is trying to make you feel anxious.“
This is another reason why we must not follow the world’s definition of love. As I write the phrase “the fullness of God’s love,” I can sense how the world interprets it as mystical, religious, sentimental, and soft.
But the fullness of God’s love—the perfect love that casts out fear— is definitely not soft and sentimental. It is not mystical and religious. It is strong. It moves us to effective, productive action. It is the motivator of deeds great and small. It is the unbreakable bond and invisible force of elite teams. It is what drives people to do what is uncomfortable but necessary.
As Paul wrote to Timothy, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1.7).
When you operate from a spirit of fear, you are anxious and stressed, and you function at a much lower level. You are not nearly as effective at doing your job. This is especially true in response to challenging situations.
When you trust God and operate from a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind, you function at the highest level of effectiveness. You see more clearly and make better decisions. You solve more problems. You listen better and speak more clearly. You are more productive. You are a better leader, colleague, teammate. You are a better spouse.
May you trust God and fully embrace the spirit of love, power, and a sound mind that he makes available to you.