I’ve always loved this verse, but it confounded me. Why are fear and love contrasted against each other? One’s obviously desirable and the other isn’t, but they didn’t seem like opposites.
Over time, it’s gotten more clear. Love and fear are opposing sides of the same coin. One or the other is at the root of every motivation.
They show up differently depending on the circumstances. Sometimes fear looks like hate, or competition, or anger, or greed or manipulation or accusations.
Sometimes love shows up as humility, or silence, or generosity, or eye contact, or a hard truth.
I don’t understand completely, but I do understand how deep these motivators run, and that we can’t be operating from both at the same time. Love casts out fear. The two cannot coexist.
Love energizes and infuses us with strength, even in the most difficult circumstances, while fear in those same circumstances drains us until we’re brittle and cracked, drawn and closed.
When I think about instances when fear controls me in relationships, there’s no love there. A few ways the contrast plays out for me:
- Fear focuses on what I need and deserve; love looks to give.
- Fear is both defensive and offensive; love is vulnerable.
- Fear is motivated by scarcity; love hasn’t bought into that lie.
- Fear loves the sounds of its own voice; love says, “I hear you.”
- Fear is deeply invested in getting credit; love isn’t.
- Fear feels accused and guilty; love knows better.
- Fear runs from both standing out and isolation; love stands up for truth and hope.
- Fear is insatiable; love is enough.
- Fear is threatened by differences; love asks what it can learn.
- Fear holds back; love gives freely.
- Fear says: “you vs. me.” Love says: “we’re in this together”
- Fear says: “Notice me. Clap for me. Affirm me.” Love says: “I see you. I applaud you.”
- Fear says: “If I stock pile, I won’t run out.” Love says: “What can I give?”
- Fear says: “How can I impress you?” Love says: “What can I learn?”
In short, fear is about me, while love focuses on others.
We’ve got 31 days to work through this, so I’m going to leave it there. Let’s stay up here with the big ideas and theories a bit longer before we dive into the day to day walking in love over fear.
This post is part of a 31 days series on this topic. To read the other posts in the series, head here.