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“There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
You know those words, don’t you? Would scoff if it was suggested that there is fear involved in your love of your spouse? You might read these words and say:
- Love in human relationships isn’t perfect
- There is nothing for me to fear in regards to my spouse
- Our love means that there is nothing to be afraid of
Some of you, however, might feel shame when reading this verse, because you:
- Doubt love –from God and perhaps from your spouse
- Feel that your relationship is often closely tied to a sense of punishment
- Are afraid in your relationship of it ending, changing, falling apart, etc.
We all approach love and the notion of fear in relationship differently. This verse addresses the heart of it.
In context, 1 John 4:18 isn’t specifically written about human relationships or the love between people. In fact, the “perfect love” described is all about God’s love for us and our security in Him. The passage surrounding this classic verse explains that love comes from God first and that love affects what we know, what we hope in, and how we live.
An earlier verse also says: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v11.)
The type of fearless, perfect love called “agape” described in verse 18 is similar to the “agapaó” love we are exhorted to take on in verse 11. Agape love, as you may well know, is divine. The love that God has for us is agape love, centering on moral preference for us.
Agapao love, as we are commanded to have for and exhibit to others, is “embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power” in regards to giving preference to others and wishing well for others as God does.
We can “speak the truth in love” (agape love) because of our agapao love for one another (Ephesians 4:15.) To speak the truth in love, though it can be tough and may produce painful consequences, is good and right –and fearless.
Likewise, we can be patient in love, we can love our spouses despite their shortcomings. We can lovingly NOT insist on our own way, get irritable, or rejoice when our frustrating loved ones get what’s coming to ‘em. In the love of Christ, we can hope, endure, believe, and bear all things (1 Corinthians 13.)
In all this loving, hard as it may be, we can know that:
- Love between humans isn’t perfect, but in Christ, it can be used perfectly
- There are things to fear in relationship, but love like God’s conquers all
- Fear will come, but we are free to choose faith in God instead, and in His provision for even our relationships.
- Love is secure in Christ, who never fails. Continue to love Him, both of you, and your human passions won’t get the better of you and drive you apart. Those He unifies, last.
- No punishment is born out of love, but correction and “speaking the truth” can show preference for our loved one’s good over our comfort or convenience.
You will find fear creeping into your relationship at times.
Fear that when he finds out, he will never look at you the same. That she’ll realize she could do better and move on. Your fears will suggest that white lies are easier than hard conversations. It might strike your heart when bad news comes up, like that your spouse is living with a chronic illness.
It will come. And you can drive it out in love. You can remember the truth and embrace God’s will and obey Him through His power. When fear has you up at night wondering where your spouse is, or wishing he wasn’t on the couch, or wondering how we can possibly sleep at a time like this…you are free to love the “other” of your one another.You are free to replace fear with hope in Christ.
You can trust that in Christ, your marriage can be made perfect in His love.