The Perfect Love
What is fear? It is a primitive, yet extremely powerful emotion. Fear is the natural response to external stimuli that we perceive as threatening or dangerous. Fear can either be physical or psychological. If someone was pointing a gun at you, naturally a sense of fear would sweep over you. The perceived threat of losing your life at that moment is real and potentially imminent. What about psychological fear? This is anxiety and worry. Being anxious and worrying about money, clothing, food, shelter, emergency preparedness, health, general prosperity, et cetera – the list could go on forever.
Due to the relative rarity of the threat of physical harm to us and those we care about, it’s safe to say that most of our fears are psychological. In today’s world, we are spoon-fed fear through our televisions, our computers, our phones, and even from our family and friends. Media outlets get higher ratings with sensational, fear-driven stories. Think about what attracts your attention more; the news story about a cat stuck in a tree, or an active shooter? The frightful stories are popular because of the fear they drum up inside us. We have vivid imaginations that run wild with worst-case scenarios in which we imagine that we could be the victims in those stories. This is the devil’s playground. Satan is absolutely amazing at fanning the flames of our anxiety, worry, and fear through deceit and lies. “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan knows our every weakness and knows what sins tempt us most.
You’ve probably heard the verse, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). Sometimes, we wonder how we can really stop worrying when so much is going on wrong around us. FEAR NOT! Instead, choose to love!
What is love? In the English language, and especially today, we use this word to describe a wide range of situations, from “I LOVE this steak!” to “I love you, man,” to the sweet “I will always love you” whispered in your new baby’s ear. But in the Greek New Testament, there are three words used for love: storge, philia, and agape. Storge is familial love, an affection between relatives or people brought together with a common bond. A good example of this is the natural love of a child for their parents. Philia is the love between friends, a true friendship like that found in these two verses: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) and “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8).
Last, and greatest, there is agape. Agape is the love that loves regardless of the circumstance. It is more commonly known as “unconditional love,” not a feeling but a choice to love someone even if you get no love in return. This is the love that God has for us. His love for us compels us to love Him and our neighbors. “And [Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37–39).
God is agape. God is love. It is His very essence. Because He first agape loved us, we are called to love like Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17). We are called to build one another up and not tear one another down. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
We are compelled through Jesus Christ’s love on Calvary to starve our fear and replace it with love. I urge you to do the same. Turn off the television, shut down the computer, put down the phone, pick up a Bible and read it. Satan cannot succeed in his mission to destroy your soul when you arm yourself with the full armor of God. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Holy Spirit – which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:10–17). “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18). Scripture describes God’s Word (the Bible) as the sword of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the only weapon of the Armor of God; the only thing that you can use to go on the attack against the devil. Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, the perfect truth. Satan, with all his lies and deceit cannot stand against God’s Word. When you read the Bible, you are leveling the sword of the Holy Spirit at the devil’s throat and you will cause him to flee like the coward he is.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. 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. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:7–21).