1 John 4:18 declares that “There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear.” So, what is perfect love? Perfect love is unconditional love. It’s love that demands nothing in return. It’s love for the sake of loving. Perfect love is pure love. It’s love that swells up and then pours out to others. It’s not selective. It never says, well I’ll love Jim and Tammy but not Steven and Alice. It loves everyone the same, because perfect love isn’t looking for perfect people to love. It’s just love abounding in someone whose heart is pure and surrendered to God. Perfect love roots out all judgments and prejudices. It looks beyond fault. It doesn’t love based upon a set of criteria. 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 tells us that perfect love is kind, believes all things, is generous, and thinks positively. A person practicing perfect love shares that love with everyone they encounter regardless of their relationship with that person.
When you are operating in perfect love, it helps you to cast out fear. Fear in love is when we’re afraid to show love to an individual because that person may might not love us back or may reject us. It never feels good to do something loving for someone who doesn’t acknowledge it or rejects our attempts. However, perfect love never looks for a response. Perfect love is like release a bunch of helium balloon in the air and letting them flow wherever they will. You have no control over where they land or who might receive them. Some people will receive the balloons with joy, others will pop them. Neither one is your concern when you are operating in perfect love.
Perfect love doesn’t love to get something in return, that’s conditional love. Perfect love understands that everyone may not receive its love with open arms. In our culture, many people are guarded and suspicious of people who seem too loving. They think, “what does this person want from me,” “why are they being so nice,” or “they must have some hidden agenda.” Because perfect love is so uncommon, people don’t expect to be loved for no reason at all. The old adage, you can’t get something for nothing rings true of love too.
But that is just how God loves us. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” We weren’t deserving of God’s love but he gave it anyway. God also never withdraws is love for us because of the bad things we do. Even when we turn our back on his love, He is ever present and waiting for our return, just like the father of the prodigal son saw him coming in the distance. God is waiting to put the best robe on our backs and to kill the fatted calf. Years of sin, bad decisions, and selfish living are wiped away within an instance. This too is the essence of perfect love.
When we can embrace God’s perfect love for us, we don’t have to fear him. We will all continue to sin and fall short of God’s glory but that’s not a reason to run from God, but instead a reason to run towards him as fast as we can. When we understand the perfect and unconditional love that God has for us, we can squash the fear that causes us to distance ourselves from God’s grace because of guilt or shame. Paul said in Romans 8, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not life or death, not things present, nor things to come, not height not depth. That’s because God’s love is predicated on our performance, it’s based on who God is alone. The Bible says that God is Love. Therefore, for God to love, he just needs to be himself. His nature is love and his love is pure, plain, and simple.
Perfect love also CASTS out fear, in other words, it tells fear, and any other selfish emotions, to take a hike so that it can keep on loving without restraint. Jesus told us to owe no man anything but to love him. No too long ago I put one of my Christian meditation Cds in my purse to give to my dentist. This was my second visit there. I arrived on time to my appointment; he was late. After spending almost 2 1/2 hours sitting in that dental chair I wasn’t a happy camper. Did I give him the CD? No . That definitely was not perfect love. I let his actions determine whether I would be loving. My love was conditional. Perfect love would have given him the CD regardless of what I experienced at his office.
However, if I love with an agenda or a selfish motive, then that’s not really love at all, is it? I’m not really thinking about the other person I’m supposedly loving; I’m really thinking about myself. I’m thinking about receiving a specific response to my action and I’m probably going to set myself up for disappointment. But if I am loving from a place of perfect love, I don’t have to fear the outcome; I don’t even have to know the outcome. God can use his perfect love to not only transform the recipient but my life as well. In the spiritual realm, our love can’t return void. Our love may not be recipicated by the person we’re loving at the time, but it will come back to us from another source in due time.
Today, meditate on the profound effects of operating in perfect love, which is to give love away for no other reason than it’s overflowing in your heart. Think about whom you can show love to today expecting nothing in return. Let the satisfaction of giving love be enough for you. When we can love others without an agenda, we are practicing perfect love and fear will always be under our feet.
Perfect Love Prayer: Thank you Lord that your love for us isn’t based upon the good or the bad that we do. For if it were, we could never earn your love. But you love us because of who you are. You love us because you are that unwavering, unconditional, and unqualified love. Lord, if there is anything in my heart obstructing your love from penetrating every cell of my body, heal me and purify my heart. Heal me so that I too may become an instrument of your perfect love, loving others for know other reason than they are your children. Amen