1 John 4:17-18 is a verse that has comforted me and meant a lot to me. It reminds me how to love others. It reminds me I can’t be scared of “what ifs” when it comes to love. Recently the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a new way through this verse. I came to this verse on a day when I was battling on the inside. I was tiring myself out with silly issues, so worried I’d make the wrong decision. As a perfectionist, I get to this place a lot.
Too often I forget grace and put the burden back on myself.
For whatever reason, I am the type of person that always has to be going going going. I have to wake up on a Saturday at 6am and start my day off with a task, just to feel like I’m not being lazy. Yes that alone is not necessarily bad. My type A personality is not bad in it of itself. I do believe God can use the personality he gave me for His glory. But because of sin, our personalities are often misused. In my case, I struggle with being content because I’m always striving for more. What more can I do? How else can I work on myself? What other sin issues are creeping up that I can fix? How can I be a better wife, a better employee a better blogger and so on until I’ve exhausted myself to no end. Heck, even a post like this show how I like to analyze issues and work on them! 🙂 Yes this is my personality but what can be very dangerous is when I assume God is just like me.
Often times our perception of God is based on our self, our parents or our experiences.
Too often I assume God is also a perfectionist. I assume God also wants me to keep striving for more. Too often I think God is uptight and restless like me, and is always dissatisfied with what I’m doing. Unfortunately it’s more in my subconscious than anything. I do know in my head God is good and gracious and loving. However, the way I act shows I don’t always believe it.
I doubt I’m alone in this, actually I know I’m not. I’ve heard others say they struggle with guilt. They struggle with always wondering if they could have been more selfless, been more soft spoken, more loving and so on. Thoughts like, “I can’t believe I spent money on a new purse, I could have been a better steward of my money, I could have given more to God’s church or to the homeless”. While that seems like a pure thought, it’s not goo when it’s coming out of a place of fear.
God wants us to act out of love not out of fear.
Like John says in the verse above, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment [torment could also be replaced with punishment]”. God’s love is perfect. There is no fear in his love. He sent His son to carry OUR punishment.
It is a lie from the enemy to think we need to continue to buy God’s love with our own perfection.
That removes the point of grace all together. Verse 19 in 1 John 4 sums it up perfect, “We love Him because He first loved us”. Yes we should do good things. Yes there is a time to be selfless and to work on ourselves. The time for that though, is when we are moved by his love for us. If our works are coming out of a place of fear, God doesn’t want them. However, if we are simply moved by his great and perfect love then he will joyfully take our works with a smile. As long as we know our works do not buy God’s happiness. His happiness, his love for us, has already been given freely. Jeez he sent His Son to die for us? Are we really scared he’ll disown us because we bought a new purse??
Like the note to the church of Ephesus in Revelations, “…and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:3-1).
Who’s our first love? The Lord! The one who saved us when we were yet sinners. Remember where you came from! Remember that he reached out to you then, and he continuously reaches out to you now! Don’t let your need to be perfect get in the way of God’s grace.