Perfect love. Do we really know or understand what that means? It isn’t love by human effort. It isn’t simply a feeling. It’s definitely not infatuation. In order to expel fear, we need to know what perfect love is, don’t we?
In light of this verse, it makes sense that when we are overcome by fear, or even anxiety, we seek out love. I’ve recently learned that the best fear-shield for me is to use what I call my love language*. In short, I seek out validation from others (words of affirmation) to fight the lies and fears. Others may pursue sexual pleasure (physical touch) or go on a shopping spree (receiving gifts). Many embrace martyrdom (acts of service) or codependency (quality time).
Whatever it looks like to each of us we must remember that these attempts of ours may make us feel loved and safe – for a moment – but they are not perfect love because perfect love is from God alone and cannot be manmade. Our attempts of seeking love do not cast out fear because they are facsimiles of perfect love. Self-sufficiency is deceptive and lures us into believing that we can control our fear… and sometimes we can – for a moment. But what if we could do more than work hard and control our fears? What if those fears could be expelled? Can you even imagine being free from fear?
If our attempts at finding love don’t lead to perfect love then what does perfect love look like? It’s all of those same things, but with God as the supplier, not ourselves or someone else. We find our affirmation in the truth of His Word, the Bible. We recognize that He created our bodies for physical intimacy, and we discipline ourselves to live by His standard in caring for them. Instead of self-indulgence, we focus on gratitude for all the gifts that He has given us already. Instead of outdoing ourselves in constantly serving others, we step back and learn to sit quietly in His presence, allowing Him to tend to our hearts. In those moments we can hear His direction clearly and take on the tasks that He desires us to do. We focus on setting aside time specifically for Him – without distraction or interruption – to pray, study Scripture, and worship.
*If the phrase isn’t familiar to you it’s from a book called The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. He teaches that humans give and receive love in five main ways – words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and receiving gifts. To learn more, read his book!