Earlier this week I wrote a guest post for my brother Paul at Just me being curious. I decided to repost it here in an expanded version after ruminating on the subject a bit more.
Fear: the opposite of Love
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
How many times can we speak of God’s love and have it meet with closed fists? How many times do we come away with broken hearts for those who don’t allow his love inside, yet continue to write about his great love and grace, available to anyone and everyone? How many times do we cry out to Jesus, “Lord, please let those who live from fear taste your honeyed grace. Let them desire to inhale your sweet bouquet of love and feel your soft-handed embrace of mercy. Let them hear the mellifluous notes of your voice speaking to them of love in ways only they can hear. Enter their hearts, Lord Jesus, and transform them.”
Jesus spoke of this love first: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And, “A new command I give to you to love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” And, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
He reminded us of the two most important commands, to love God first and love our neighbor which originated with Old Testament law. He said these two were the essence of all the laws; if we keep these two in our hearts and minds, we would surpass the righteousness of the religious leaders.
The apostle Paul spoke of it often.
“Nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
As did the apostle John: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears as not been perfected in [Christ’s] love.”
Yet, we continue to speak and act out of fear: accusing, judging, excluding, telling our brothers and sisters in Christ what they should and shouldn’t do in the name of God.
Seeing from fear is like seeing through fog. We never have a clear picture of God’s love and grace.
Love is patient and kind.
Fear is impatient and antagonistic
Love is not jealous or boastful or arrogant
Fear is jealous, dissatisfied and suspicious;
It is presumptuous, contemptuous and scornful
Fear is not courteous or willing to learn or listen
It does not demand its own way.
Fear is domineering and judgmental, forgetting we all sin
It is not irritable,
Fear is argumentative
and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Fear is resentful and angry
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Fear seeks vengeance rather than justice;
Fear is not open to forgiveness
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful,
Fear does not seek to pray for enemies or offer the gospel to those they hate
and endures through every circumstance.
Fear lets circumstances overcome trust.
When we live our lives from fear, we cancel out everything Jesus has done for us. We return to the captivity of law as if we were orphans, as if no one had redeemed us and given us a new life and a new heart. Instead, we refuse to live from the higher place of love that comes from being a member of God’s family.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
My friend Paul has said it over and over. Love is the answer.
No matter the question.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17