And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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. 1 John 4:16-18
When the alarm clock goes off, and you awake from your nightly slumber, have you ever stopped and thought about why you are getting up? I'm not talking about an important business meeting or shuffling the kids off to school. I'm highlighting something much more profound, something that drives not only our words and actions but also the way we perceive the world around us. So, let me ask again: what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Chances are good your first response wouldn't be fear. None of us want to believe fear could serve as a driving force and the greatest motivator in our life. But, the reality is fear tends to be our default response to the tension between life and death.
Some of us are afraid that we will be disappointed in this life. We don't want to miss out on anything here. After all, this is the only life we know, so we pour energy, focus, and attention on the things of this world. We live for these things hoping to find fulfillment in them. We make our life about all the things here on Earth thus missing real life for fear of losing it. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:17 calls this foolish pursuit "chasing after the wind."
On the other hand, there are those of us that are afraid we will be disappointed in the life to come. To outsiders we display all the visible signs of what a "true" believer should look like: attending church on Sundays, putting money in the collection plate, reading our Bible, leading a small group, volunteering, etc. It seems like we have it all together when it comes to being a Christian.
The actions in and of themselves are not wrong, but rather the motives behind those actions. Outward appearances and behaviors only show a limited perspective on what is going on inside of our heart. Fear motivates our behavior. We want to show Christ we deserve His love and forgiveness. We double our efforts to get close to God through our self: self-determination, self-sufficiency, and self-discipline. We go to church and read our Bible to keep God happy; hoping our performance will win His acceptance. What we fail to realize is that nothing we can say or do can make God love us any more or any less.
Regardless of whether it is fear of disappointment in this life or fear of disappointment in the next, fear often wins out. The only thing strong enough to replace fear, which causes us to rush, is faith. We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We pay attention to our desires and how those desires seek to define our lives. What we believe about God and how He defines and directs our purpose determines the stability of our faith and thereby the quality of our life. Life is what we all want anyway.
Every longing at its core is longing for life. The reason we long to live is that God placed eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). A fulfilling life finds its roots in Christ's Christ's love. Love is what casts away fear. Paul says in Galatians 5:1, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free."
Love provides the freedom to live the life at the pace God intended. When we know God loves us, we don't have to continue to store up our treasures here on Earth because we know this place isn't our home. It enables us to truly appreciate the things of this world in their proper perspective. They serve as shadows of something more significant to come. The freedom found in love also enables us to obey as a response to already being loved and not to achieve Christ's approval.
- In what way does fear serve as a motivator for your actions and drive?
God, may I rest in the security of Your love. Allow me to trust in Your love so much that it influences every day I'm blessed to have from here on out. Thank You that I can walk freely in Your love knowing that it casts out all fear. In Your name Jesus, Amen.