August 23, 2012

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Here we have further evidence that our usual grasp of love is deficient. When we fear anything, it’s evidence that we don’t understand God’s love for us. When we fail properly to appreciate God’s love for us, then we in turn fail to love Him fully, and fail to allow His love to flow through us to those around us. Growing in love is indeed a lifetime endeavor, as older, happily married couples will tell you. It’s no accident that the Bible repeatedly uses the marital relationship as an illustration of God’s relationship to His people. God already knows us perfectly, so we need to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him. Since, as John says, God is love, that is the same thing as saying that we need to grow in our knowledge and understanding of love. Any time we are anxious or afraid of anything at all, we need to take that as evidence of our need to grow in our knowledge and appreciation of God’s love.

Having said that, I am reminded of a sentence that was something of a trademark of my father: “Give all you know of yourself to all you know of Christ.” He used it effectively in evangelism, because the Japanese, being perfectionists, tend to want to “know all about” Christianity before they make a commitment. His point was that, just as we continually learn more about ourselves, we should be learning more about Christ. There will never be “perfect knowledge” on this side of eternity, but that shouldn’t keep us from commitment. We don’t have a perfect grasp of God’s love, and won’t until we are immersed in it before His throne, but that shouldn’t keep us from walking in it as much as possible right now. The various reminders of the imperfection of our understanding aren’t to condemn us, but to urge us to keep going deeper, keep going higher in our knowledge of God. (And no, those aren’t mutually exclusive, despite the limitations of human language.) That’s why it’s by faith, and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Father, thank You for how far You have led me, and for the awareness that I still have far to go. Help me focus not on what I don’t know, but what I do, because that in itself is glorious. Help me be increasingly effective in leading others to the same position of commitment by faith, not as those who have been perfected or who know everything, but as those who have tasted enough of Your love to know that it is worth more than everything else put together, even though we only know a fraction of it. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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