Recently I realized I’m a performer. Typically when I think about the title performer I think about musicians and actors, people that entertain. But the type of performer I’m talking about is the one that performs as a defensive behavior motivated by the fear of failure.
An example of this would be the person that believes that the amount of love they receive is equivalent to how well they perform. They believe that they have to earn love. That was me.
My identity was found in what I did and my worth was found in how well I preformed my responsibilities. Therefore, if a responsibility was removed from me, I believed that I had failed, that God wasn’t pleased with my work, so he took it away from me.
Can you relate?
Do you ever have these thoughts run through your head? Like, if I don’t do my job/ministry/relationship well enough it will be taken from me and given to someone else. It’s almost as if God would pull you from the game and bench you, or put you on a shelf to collect dust. So when the next opportunity to “play” comes along and you get to participate your driven by the fear of failure rather than love. You believe there is no margin for error.
Am I speaking to anyone?
One of Jesus’s disciples, John, called himself the “disciple that Jesus loved.” I used to get irritated by that. I thought John was arrogant. I realize now, he wasn’t arrogant, he just knew he was loved and who loved him. He knew he didn’t have to perform for Jesus’s love, he just knew he was loved. Therefore John, lived from God’s love, he didn’t try to earn God’s love.
God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us…Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. (1 John 4:16-19 The Passion Translation)
John didn’t say our perfection, he said love’s perfection drives out the fear of punishment. God is love and he is the only one who’s love is perfect. And his perfect love drives out the fear of punishment from our hearts.
I’ve heard 1 John 4:18 quoted so many times when people have been fearful as a means to get rid of fear, “Perfect love casts out fear…” I’ve even used it and I’m not saying that it’s wrong. There’s this thought that love just comes in and replaces fear, which is true. But what if we went to the root of the fear first and let love attack it? What if we ask God to show us where the lie is that is feeding the fear, and let God replace that lie with the truth. If we would do that, God could water and cultivate that seed of love he has planted in us so that it would grow and perfect in us. But so many times we don’t uproot the source of the fear and we try to let it grow along side of love. Love and fear can’t grow beside each other, one is bound to choke out the other.
John also says specifically, “that love drives out the fear of punishment.”
Think about the times you have done something nice, or obeyed God. What was your motivation? Was it fear based or love based? Did you think, If I don’t do this correctly, God will punish me, so I have to do this perfectly, in turn maybe he will like me…(fear based) or did you think, I am going to do my best because I love Him and I know that regardless of the outcome, He is pleased with me. (love based)
God doesn’t use fear as a motivator. If you have been operating out of fear, trying to earn God’s love, then know that God is not initiating that. Satan is. God loved you from the moment he thought of creating you. His love has not and will not waver for his creation. He knows we are not perfect, and he created us that way so we would learn how to live in his perfect love.
I don’t believe that Jesus ever intended John to be the only one to say, “I’m the one Jesus loves,” in fact, I believe that Jesus intends for us all to think like John did. I believe that he intends for all of us to live knowing we are loved.
So what are you living and operating from, love or fear? Do you know you are loved by God? Or do you believe that he will love you after you earn his love?
My prayer for you is that our hearts would be able to comprehend how deep and wide, how high and long, how vast our God’s love is for us; so that you can live knowing you are loved. And let God’s perfect love uproot and cast out that fear of punishment.