16 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. 17 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. 18 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.
19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)
First of all we are talking about ”Agape” love this means to love with affection, good will, benevolence, brotherly love; we could say that this is love that goes beyond our human understanding. The way I learned it years ago is that this is unconditional love. Verse 16 says that it is love that we can rely on and not have to doubt. I know that many who read this have experienced the human kind of love that can’t be trusted or relied on, I have too; but that is not to mean we can’t move beyond our experiences. God has unconditional love for us – there is nothing we can do, believe, or think – that can take that unconditional love away from us. God knows the human condition and limitations that we all face and provided the redemption we needed to learn His way of loving.
Continuing on, the simple phrase God is “agape” love. God is affection, good will, benevolence, and brotherly love. The kind of love everyone can rely on. Going further, we find that we are to live in “agape” love. This is hard for us lowly human beings we are so filled with unlove or false love that many don’t realize they are not living in love. How many times have you heard an unbeliever say that they want nothing to do with the church because it’s filled with hypocrites? We all have heard that. It’s because so many within the church don’t really live love they live tradition or religion. Everyone goes through times when they are going through the proverbial motions of faith and love but not really giving it their full attention. We think, “Oh, God knows I’m not perfect, why should I try so hard?”
Love is made complete or accomplished – add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full. Love is made complete when it is completely full – I would say overflowing to everyone around us. In character it means to consecrate, fulfill, to make perfect. This is why love refines us to be the very best we can be for ourselves and for those around us.
Love gives us confidence – ultimately, for the day of judgement, but also to be brave and bold to move forward in faith and love. I have a tremendous fear of public speaking and singing in front of others. Yes, those who know me well know I can get very prideful and this fear keeps that in check but it also keeps me from being the vessel God needs me to be to touch the lives of others. However, I still have fear, but when I walk in love I become confident in my abilities and gifts. I also know that I fall tragically short on living agape love toward God when I choose to actively sin even when I know this is wrong, but I have confidence that God understands this and loves me anyway. This gives me the confidence to come before the Holy throne of God with my requests and be fearless in the sight of my failures and His judgement.
“In this world we are Jesus.” We (believers) know we may be the only Jesus someone sees in their lives. This is the call of the Lord to us to go into the world and make believers of others and teach them to carry on the mission to be Jesus to those around them. We can’t do this if we don’t love in the unconditional way of agape love.
So, we come to the focus of this writing – 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. (v. 18) The word fear is the Greek word “phobos” and it means fear, dread, and terror, exceedingly afraid. To get a real feel for what this is take the thing you are most afraid of and multiply that by 100% then you will have an idea what this really means. But agape love takes away that great fear and replaces it with confidence and assurance that you will be victorious over the things you are terrified of. Fear has to do with punishment – “I did something wrong,” ”I am a failure,” …..fill in what it is that you are afraid to be punished for. Being fearful is not condemnation it just means we need to practice agape with ourselves as well as others. Truly, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to being unloving – it is to ourselves we are most unloving with.
In conclusion, “We love because He first loved us.” (v.19) We can only walk in agape because God loved us first and most. He provided a way for us to learn agape love through Jesus and His sacrifice to give us the confidence we can only have in Jesus and agape love.
Bible verses came from the NIV on https://www.biblegateway.com/