This is a passage that I have read many times, but as I take more time now to meditate about it and work to understand what it is saying, I discover more about how different and amazing this love is.
These are the verses:
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:17-19 (NKJV)
John talks about the perfection of this agape love. The idea here is the complete development of this love in us to fulfill His design. Notice the consequences of a fully developed love in us. We will have no fear of judgment.
I see a contrast being made here. One circumstance is someone who has a relationship with God that is based on a fear of punishment. The other circumstance is someone who has a relationship with God that is based on a fully developed love for Him. That person does not fear punishment.
As is pointed out in verse 18, if our relationship with God involves this kind of fear, our love for Him is not fully developed. This is another example of “…by this we know…” that is found so often in 1 John.
This is an idea worth meditating about. Acknowledging our guilt and fearing punishment may bring us to committing ourselves to a relationship with God, but as this agape love for Him becomes perfected in us, the fear is pushed out. As disciples of Jesus, we find ourselves somewhere on this continuum. It is a growing process as we learn to love Him.
These verses close with the truth that we love Him because we learned it from Him. He not only talks about what this love is, but demonstrated it for us to help us understand how He intends it to work.
What do you think?
There are a few more verses at the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5 that talk about this love. I plan to talk more about them in the next post.
Until next time…