“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Follow your heart. Love yourself. Do what makes you happy.
These phrases scream at us as we pass billboards, watch commercials, or view ads on social media. As a society, we’ve convinced ourselves there are quick and instant solutions to our biggest problems. We’ve been persuaded to hold ourselves in a high view simply because “we deserve it” or “we’ve done our best and that’s all we can do.”
This is a marketing scheme–regardless of whether companies or influencers realize it or not. At the end of the day, the materialistic lifestyle that promises much leaves us empty and fearful. When our identity is placed in anything other than Jesus Christ, we will live in a fear-based state; constantly worried about where we will find our next source of validation.
As depraved humans, we can recall many moments others have failed us–and times we have failed others. Why do we struggle to maintain close relationships? Why are we apprehensive to share parts of our lives and struggles? Why do we walk on eggshells around those we desire to impress? The answer is simple: when our foundational beliefs are unstable, our emotions are unstable, and validation from others gives us a feeling of security.
Identity in Christ = Freedom from Fear
Understanding who we are in Christ is the only way we can walk in confidence. The things we believe about who God is and what He says about us shapes how we live as children of God and keeps us from the fear of not being enough.
Here’s the truth: We are imperfect. God desires perfection. We do not deserve God and therefore are totally incapable of loving Him by ourselves, but because of Who He is–perfect, loving, merciful, gracious, and just—He loved us first! This isn’t the kind of “love” we see today in imperfect human examples.
This is perfect love because God is a perfect God.Understanding who we are in Christ is the only way we can walk in confidence. The things we believe about who God is and what He says about us shapes how we live as children of God and keeps us from the fear of not being enough. Click To Tweet
This is reassuring because there is nothing we could ever do to gain God’s approval. If we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified (made righteous) in the sight of the Lord. Our freedom in Christ, releasing our bondage to sin, is the cure to our fears in this life. It is crucial that we repeat the gospel to ourselves every single day.
In my life, there have been moments spent overthinking, contemplating, and attempting to control the next steps in my life. When I began to search for colleges, I always desired to go to an institution with a valued academic reputation. This isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it became an idol in my life. I desired to appear smart more than I desired to follow the Lord’s calling on my life.
Upon much fear and questioning over my choices, I came across the option of Bible college. The idea was so foreign to the plans I had originally. But I knew God wouldn’t have placed the desire to attend Bible college on my heart if He hadn’t wanted me there, so I went. At the beginning, I was apprehensive of what my peers would think. It was untraditional to spend a year studying the Bible rather than jumping into a liberal arts school. But seeing God’s guidance in my life has lessened the fear of what man thinks because I know that I’m a servant of Christ and I can trust His ways.
There is No Fear in Love
When we fear the validation and opinions of others, we are not walking in the confidence of God’s love. When we fear tomorrow, next week, or ten years from now, we have forgotten to consider that God’s plan for us is perfect, because He loves us perfectly.
Why is it that we forget the promises of God?
Selfishly, we desire to put ourselves first and remain in control of our lives, doing whatever we feel will provide the most comfort. Because we live in the present without knowledge of the future, our plans and goals for ourselves are often skewed versions of the perfect plans God has for us.Because we live in the present without knowledge of the future, our plans and goals for ourselves are often skewed versions of the perfect plans God has for us. Click To Tweet
In our attempts to control, we put man before God. It seems there are far more rewards on earth if we allow man to dictate our steps. When we realize that our efforts to please man are not enough, we become fearful, scrambling for ways to gain further validation.
When we remember the promises, plans, and love of Christ, the attention is taken off ourselves, man’s approval no longer validates us, and we experience freedom from the bondage of sin. This doesn’t mean that our life will be devoid of trials… in fact trials are a part of the Christian walk, but we’re able to walk through those trials with confidence that they will be used by God to sanctify us.
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
How do we combat those moments in which we are self-conscious and fearful of others’ opinions?
One of the most powerful ways is simply by remembering and meditating on God’s greater truth: God’s perfect love casts out our fear.
God is holy, yet He sent His Son so we could one day be with Him in heaven. God is just, yet through the sacrifice of Jesus, He imputed righteousness on us. God is faithful and kept His covenant promise to restore mankind to Himself. Preach the gospel to yourself. Remind yourself what perfect love looks like and reiterate the truth that God perfectly loves you and has called you chosen, worthy, and righteous. His plan for your life is far better than you could ever imagine.
Because of this, we don’t have to fear not being enough–we are freed to rest in the truth that Christ is enough for us.