Fear: a Stumbling Block to Love

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

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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

 or rude.

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

20 comments

  1. This was excellent. I love how you used the opposites to 1 Corinthians 13 to make your point – that made it so clear! Living in fear is life on shifting sands, unsteady and unstable. Thanks for writing!

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    1. “on shifting sands, unsteady and unstable.” Yes, that is clear, too. Thank you for your comment!

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  2. That was a mouthful, Susan. I spent a lot of my life in fear. Sometimes it is easy to go back there, but I’m not.

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  3. Thank you SIF. I’ve been waiting for someone to confirm what I’ve believed for a while–that fear, not hate, is the real enemy of love. I think Paul wrote “perfect love casts out fear.” That’s kind of a clue isn’t it? Also, Jesus, the ambassador of love, often told folks, “Fear not.” I don’t ever remember him saying “Hate not.” I do know that when I’m gripped in the vice of even one of the lesser fears, like anxiety, I’m not really loving anyone, not God, or my wife or even myself.

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    1. Absolutely. It’s really in our perspective, the lens we choose to see things through. Great observations and thoughtful introspection. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  4. thank you for the reminder, Susan. =)

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  5. thank you for the wonderful reminder, Susan. =)

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    1. Rudy, great to “see” you! You’re most welcome. 🙂

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  6. So well put. Thanks for the great words.

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    1. Thanks, Bill. We must, as Christians, collectively get our heads out of our Old Covenant assumptions and allow Christ to transform our hearts and minds. Bless you for your encouragement.

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  7. This post looks very much “at home” here! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Paul. It felt that way for me, too. And thanks again for the inspiration and place to stir my thoughts.

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      1. ((hug) – all just one bucket! 🙂

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  8. You know Susan this is a wonderful truth. The words that really jumped off the page to me were In, love and if. If is a mighty big word. I wonder if in some folks it leaves room for love. The Lord ask us to love folks where they are at just as he does us. Some are at different places in their walk to perfection none will reach it here. The important thing is to be In Christ. Then we can love like Christ. The Lord said alot of folks will call him Lord. Yet he never knew them. Yes love is the key regardless of the topic for love prevails over all evil. We still have those three words If, In, and Love. This post really is a blessing and holds quite a bit of Truth. Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with me I appreciate you.

    Much Love Tom

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    1. If, in and love – powerful words, all three, Tom. We can never lose hope in anyone, or lose faith in God’s timing. We cannot judge someone simply because they commit different sins than we do. We cannot shun someone because they have yet to give their heart to Jesus. If we do, we forget his Great Commission to us.

      Thank you as always for your loving and insightful comments, Tom.

      Love to you and Carolyn

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      1. That will preach Susan.

        Joy and strength to you

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  9. Love not fear. Exactly. That was the message Christ brought at a time when that whole concept was anathema. Why can’t we all see this? I was just reading Philippians this morning: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [c]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [d]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 4:4-13. I have memorized this one because it is so easy to stray from this message.

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    1. So easy, Beth, to see the worst in people, isn’t it? The passage from Philippians is an excellent one to keep in our hearts and minds.

      Fear is also about excluding outcasts; love is about embracing them, which is also what Jesus did. I truly believe, as society’s outcasts shift and change with the wind, Jesus would have embraced them all, ministered to all with love and compassion, allowed them to see God’s heart. The only finger-pointing Jesus ever seemed to do was to those who thought they were above the outcasts, more righteous, more “law abiding.” I think that would still be true today.

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