by Rick Warren — August 5, 2022
From Awesome Relationships
“Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid . . . this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
1 John 4:18 (NLT)
Are your relationships characterized by freedom or by fear?
If you’re like most people, you find yourself in a dilemma: You long to be close to other people, but you also fear being close. You want the freedom of intimacy with others, but you’re also scared to death of it.
Fear often causes a battle for control in relationships. When you’re afraid, you’re insecure. And insecurity makes you try to control others—and resist efforts to be controlled! As a result, you can’t get close to other people because you’re just battling back and forth for control. So insecurity prevents intimacy and destroys your relationships.
If insecurity destroys relationships, then what builds them? Love! Love builds relationships.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, this . . . shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (NLT).
Love expels fear by taking the focus off of you and putting it on others. People often ask me, “Do you ever get nervous when you’re talking to a lot of people at Saddleback?” The answer is, “Of course!”
But here’s what makes the difference: I take the focus off of myself and focus on the people in front of me instead. If I stood there thinking about what they thought of my hairstyle or my way of speaking, I would be afraid. But the minute I start thinking about how much I love my church family, the fear leaves.
It’s the same in any relationship. Focusing on the other person gives you the power to throw fear out of your life.
How do you find that power to focus on other people? You start by realizing how much God loves you. The moment you begin to understand how much God loves you, you don’t have to prove yourself anymore. Because you’re secure in God’s love, you don’t have to spend your life trying to impress other people.
Do you know how freeing and enjoyable it is to live life that way? When you’re secure in your relationship with Christ, you’re no longer pressured by everyone else’s expectations. Your identity and self-worth are in Christ—not in what others might think of you.
God’s love frees you to love others fearlessly.