How does fear relate to my ability to love? I have been meditating on this recently, particularly with struggling through my own inability to love. At the root of it all is underlying fear...
Fear that I won't be accepted
Fear I will lose that something or someone
Fear that I won't have the answers
Fear that I can't control the situation
Fear that I will be rejected
Fear that I will do it wrong
Fear that I will be ridiculed or ignored
Fear, fear, fear.
I try to justify it, convincing myself I need that measure of control in my life. Yet, Jesus says that my love is to be overflowing with mercy, kindness, unselfishness, forgiveness; no jealousy or anger, no rude thoughts or words, no hypocrisy (See I Corinthians 13; Matthew 18:21-35; 23: 34-40). I cannot love in this way if I am enslaved to my fears and the pride, jealousy, anger, selfishness, and more that partner with it. As I reflect on my heart's condition, apart from the grace and mercy of Christ, the more I find these sins abounding in every corner of my heart. I grieve with the apostle Paul that the more I try to do the right things the more I find it is the wrong things I am doing (see Romans 7: 15-20). How do I move beyond this cyclical pattern? It's enough to make me discouraged and want to give up. It seems worthless and a waste of time. Why keep trying when I will just fail again? I convince myself the hard things God is asking me to do are pointless because I just can't do it. It's too hard. In reality, I'm... just. so. afraid...
Maybe I have put on a brave face, but my heart tells me otherwise.
Anyone else here with me?
Maybe God is speaking to you about that person you have been angry with; that situation you have been bitter about; that step of faith you are too proud to take; that sin you have been too afraid to confess... these and more will prevent your love. Yet, here we find grace. Here there is abundant mercy. Romans 5 explains for us that while we find the sins around us increasingly overwhelming, in spite of this, his grace abounds even more. What comfort and joy we find in that truth.
Whatever fear you have going into this week- whether a sin, situation, relationship, or unknown trial- God has promised mercy and grace in abundance (Hebrews 4:16).
This is what keeps us motivated. Knowing the outpouring of our Savior's forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love toward us allows us to show the same to others. It allows us to let go of that area of sin and fear, knowing he is working in us to make us more like the image of himself. His abundance in our emptiness. His love triumphing over our fear. His joy filling what once was anger, jealousy, and selfishness. In the end, we will praise him for these trials and sufferings, for by them, he has created vessels enslaved not by fear but joyously enslaved to righteousness and holiness (Romans 6:15-22)
"Be done with fear. Be full of joy. Be overflowing with courageous love for others." (John Piper)
Let us pray for God to effectually work in us to set aside our fear and to love Him and to love and forgive others as he has so mercifully and graciously loved and forgiven us. This is where we will find true fulfillment. 💗
Songs for Meditation: