第1ヨハネ 4:18 愛には恐れはありません。全愛は恐れを締め出します。なぜなら恐れには刑罰が伴っているからです。恐れる者の愛は、全ものとなっていないのです。

This statement is so true, and so obvious if we think about it. A small child who has been in a fully loving environment has no fear at all. In a sense, we learn to fear. The problem is, we then find it hard to learn not to fear. The world can be a really scary place! We have fear of injury, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, and the list goes on and on. What John is saying is that a proper appreciation and understanding of God's love, receiving it into our hearts, generates such a level of trust that there is no room for fear. Things still happen to us, but we know that God will never allow anything that can't be for our good (Romans 8:28), and so we don't fear. It is important to distinguish between different kinds of fear here, which is difficult in English but much easier in Japanese, which uses different characters with the same reading to indicate the kind of fear this verse is talking about and the fear of God, which is a deep respect and appreciation of His power and majesty. (Unfortunately the Japanese translation I use most of the time uses the same character – the one in this verse – for fear throughout the Bible, adding some other words to shade the meaning, but other translations do better on that point.) Checking on our fear level is a good way to check on how well we are recognizing and abiding in God's love.


I regularly pray for a revelation of God's love for people, particularly with the people I visit at the mental hospital, who are often bound by various phobias. However, this problem extends to just about everybody, and not just the people with recognized problems. I'll never forget God telling me to trust His love, just before I got into a situation I certainly wouldn't want to repeat. That situation was the result of my shortsightedness, but God uses even our mistakes to teach and grow us. His love is big enough for that! Anxiety is a very common form of fear, and I need to stand firm against it at all times. I know that God loves me and that that He's more than big enough to handle everything that comes my way, so I need to rest in that assurance, and rejoice!


Father, thank You for the incredible richness and abundance of Your love. Thank You that it is based on grace, and not some merit system. Help me not only appropriate it for myself, as You intend, but also extend it to those around me, as You also intend. Help us as a church, Your family, appropriate and express Your love more and more fully, not just so that we will recognize and enjoy all that You want to pour out on us, but also so that those around us may be drawn into repentance and faith with us, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


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