Are you sick of living in fear? I know I am. The TCK life can introduce a myriad of fears – fear of interacting with people who may stereotype you, fear of not knowing what will happen in the next country, fear of committing social faux pas … you name it.
A friend once recommended that I write my fears down. Let’s do this small mental exercise together, shall we? Grab a pencil and jot five fears that come to your mind. Try to be as specific and honest as possible.
For example, one of my fears is the pain of leaving people behind when I move to another country.
Now take a step back and look at your list. Ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of [insert fear]?” Note it down. Before you set your list aside, keep it near you throughout this article.
The Fears that Torments Us
When the fears on our list are triggered, the experiences are unpleasant. Dreads, worries, and anxieties can grow to consume you. It feels as though we are being tormented. According to 1 John 4:18, fear has, indeed, the attribute of torment.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 KJV (emphasis added)
Our fears torment us because the object of our fears has replaced God’s position in our hearts. Anything that replaces God’s position in our hearts is idolatry. That is why this kind of fear is referred to as ungodly fear. We lose our focus on God and allow our fears to be rulers.
Fret not, dear friend. Fears don’t have to control our lives.
The Love that Casts Out Fears
How do we overthrow our fears? With perfect love. As John says, “… perfect love casteth out fear … He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 KJV).
In Greek, the word love from this verse is written as agapē. The definition of agapē is God’s love – unconditional, perfect, and self-sacrificial.
The same word appears in Matthew: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt [agapáō] the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37–38 KJV).
Thus, to cast out fears, we need to put God first. Although we can’t accomplish this perfectly, we need to keep choosing Him in each moment and day.
But how exactly? How does love cast out fears?
1. Love Begins with Jesus Christ.
It all started with the One who showed agapē by sacrificing Himself for us to be free from sin. We live a life of victory because He has already won and because of who He is – Love (1 John 4:16). Because of His love, our love towards Him is reciprocal.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 KJV
2. Love Fears With a Godly Fear – the Fear of the Lord.
Godly fear is deep respect for the Lord. It breaks us free of idols, and it submits to the King on the throne, acknowledging Him as the great I AM. It lifts Him high above circumstances. Because of Him, we can face our fears head-on with praises in our hearts instead of dread. Godly fear seeks the Lord’s wisdom rather than our own understanding.
“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28 KJV
3. Love Does Not Torment Or Cause You to Fear
Agapē writes the truth of God on the table of our hearts (Prov. 3:3). It doesn’t allow thoughts of ungodly fear to continue to dwell within us. Instead, it rests in Jesus. It’s the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
Agapē is a continuous process rather than a one-time moment. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit as opposed to the torment of fear.
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of [agapē], and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6–7 KJV
The Decision is Ours
Because of Jesus Christ and His love, we can have victory over our fears by placing Him first. We can live a life of His peace instead of torment.
Ultimately, we have to continue to choose between Him or our fears. One will direct us to the path of agapē, while the other, to the way of sin.
Remember my fear I mentioned above – the fear of goodbyes and the pain of leaving people behind when I move to another country? It was a fear I confronted when I was living in the Czech Republic. The idol of my fear was myself. I wanted to protect myself from the pain of grief. When I involve myself with people, I tend to form an emotional connection with them. The deeper the connection, the more painful the grief becomes when that connection is severed by a goodbye.
So I kept my distance to protect myself. The church I attended needed more people to serve; however, my fear held me back from volunteering.
The truth that fought my fear was that Christ’s love that was shown on the cross is greater and higher regardless of the grief that would result from my leaving. His love is worth the pain, and He will comfort and carry me through when the pain comes (2 Cor. 1:3–4; Isa. 46:4). Eventually, I surrendered to Him. With His love as my direction and with His peace in my heart, I stepped forward to serve.
Has the fear threatened to return? Yes, but as long as I continue to cling to the truth, fear will not rule my life.
Now it’s your turn. Revert to your five fears. Counteract them by referring to the Bible and writing down five truths. Pray for forgiveness of your idols and submit every single one of them to the Lord. Then continue to do so when these fears threaten to arise.
Next time fear hits you, choose the love that casts out fears – agapē.