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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Thursday, February 3

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
—1 John 4:18

There is a lot of fear in our lives right now. We fear terrorist attacks, we fear the changing climate, we fear the strength of other nations, we fear there will not be enough resources for what we need, we fear those who are different from us and those who challenge our notions of right and wrong.

Fear can be a powerful motivator, and we sometimes deal with our fear of others by trying to make them afraid of us. Frightened children can become bullies. Frightened adults often misuse authority. 

Religious types threaten the fires of hell. Political types tell us we won’t be safe or we won’t have enough if we vote for the other party. Nations show off bombs and military might to scare other nations into compliance. Fear is literally killing us, and yet we keep invoking its power.

The way of this verse is different. 1 John 4:8 has just said that “God is love.” Now we read that “there is no fear in love,” which means there is no fear in God.

I distrust anyone who uses fear as a tool, no matter how effective it might prove to be. The more fear in the approach, the less love is in it; and the less love there is, the less God is in it. If I give in to someone’s fear tactics, I have separated myself from God. If I use fear tactics, I am inflicting spiritual harm and making less room for God to work in the world.

If we are to be freed from our fears, we must find a way to reach out in love rather than giving in to fear and hunkering down alone. “Perfect love casts out fear.” If we want less fear in our lives, we need to strive for more love. We can, with the courage God gives us. Love and fear can’t exist in the same space. Let us all pray for more love.

Fearless God, show me how to fill the frightened places of my life with love. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.