Steve’s Devotional – How to Cope with Fear
FEBRUARY 26, 2018
God can deal with almost anything except for a lack of love. And he can certainly deal with your sin—that’s what the cross is all about. (It’s your stiffness that’s the real issue.) God can deal with almost anything except for a lack of love…because he is love. A lover must love and be loved.
Most unbelievers I know, regardless of what they say, are not afraid that God doesn’t exist; they are afraid that he does exist. They are afraid that, because they haven’t met his standards, God is ticked about it. Most unbelievers are afraid.
They are not the only ones. Are you afraid of God? I am. As Christians, we should have the least fear of God; yet, often, we are the ones most afraid. Our fear keeps us in someone else’s mold. That is why we think we have to talk a certain way, look a certain way and act a certain way. Although Christians will not dare admit it, we actually believe that we had better not get out of line because, if we do, God will strike us dead.
Now don’t get me wrong. Fear is an appropriate response to God. If you have never stood before God and been afraid, then you have never stood before God. While that is true, there is more. If you have stood before God and been only afraid, you have not stood before God either.
Some good news from 1 John 4:7-21. “Love has been perfected among us…There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:17-18). In other words, if you want to get rid of your fear, love God and love others. If you want to get rid of your fear, allow God and others to love you.
So what is the nature of the love that casts out fear?
Direction of God’s Love
The source of love is not in you; it is in God. Most of us feel that we need to love God in order for him to love us back. Most of us feel that we have to do certain things in order to get God to love us. That is not love; it is reward. Love is that which exists in spite of that which is unlovely. Love always flows from God to us, hardly ever in the opposite direction. When you go to him, you’re in for a big surprise. God gives all that you need because he loves you.
We need to be reminded: God doesn’t need us. We don’t have to do anything to please God. So you can relax…you don’t have to be God. There is one Messiah in the world and you’re not it. Whatever God is going to do in the world, he can do without your help.
First and foremost, allow God to love you. Increased faith, compassion and love for others, and an obedient heart will follow…but God’s love for you has to come first.
Dependability of God’s Love
A farmer really meant business when he put up a sign on his property: “No trespassing! Survivors will be prosecuted!” We think that about God. After all, God is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29) and you might not even survive the encounter. And if you do survive, you will be prosecuted the rest of your life for your sinfulness and disobedience, for your lack of holiness. That is a lie.
John doesn’t say that God acts in a loving way (the most hated person can act in a loving way from time to time) or that a portion of God is love (a portion of me is love). He says: God is love. Love is God’s essence. Love is God’s attribute. God is non-discriminatory in his love. God loves you not because of who you are; God loves you because of who he is. Who you are is irrelevant; what you feel doesn’t matter; what you do isn’t the issue; what you become doesn’t even count…God loves you because God is love. Love is unconditional. We don’t have any love yet he loves us.
Demonstration of God’s Love
Sometimes you have to choose. You can save yourself or you can save others, but you can’t do both. Jesus knew that. Jesus lifted us up and he died in our place on the cross.
“In the beginning was the Word…” (Big deal!) But it didn’t stop there. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). God demonstrated his love on the cross…his love for you. Love, by its very nature, must be active.
Denial of God’s Love
Up to this point, this has been for Christians. If you’re not yet a Christian, hovering on the outskirts of the fire, you need to go to God…regardless of your fear of judgment (which is legitimate, by the way), your guilt (which is legitimate, by the way) and the fact that God is a consuming fire. God has a surprise for you. He loves you. So run to Jesus.
Back to Christians. As a Christian, you may worship God out of fear. That is simply wrong because God’s love for you is absolute and total, no matter who you are or what you have done. Love is God’s nature.
Not only that. When you have God’s love, it overflows, reaching out to other people. The principle is this: You can’t love until you’ve been loved, and then only to the degree to which you’ve been loved. And God is love.
Be forewarned. Those who worship God only out of fear would worship the devil if he should appear.
Time to Draw Away
Read 1 Corinthians 13 & Isaiah 41:10
What are your fears—of God, of others and in life? Call them out and name them. God’s perfect love always conquers over fear. And that love grows and multiplies…from him, to you and out into the world to them. In the face of love, fear doesn’t stand a chance.