TRUE LOVE                                            Dr. Joseph Stowell

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him. 1 John 4:16
We love God by giving ourselves willingly to Him, His Word, and His will. “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:3). But loving God is also expressed by extending love toward others. In fact, loving others is the proof of our commitment to Christ (John 13:34-35). These upward and outward directions of love are brought together in Christ’s command that we are to first love God and then our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).
The opposite of love is not always hate. It is more often self-centeredness rooted in a fear of loss, of being taken advantage of, of being misunderstood, of becoming vulnerable, or of losing control of our own destiny. Fear turns our attention inward. It thrives on self-centeredness—on our concern for our own welfare. When we are fearful, we refuse to surrender to God’s control and are afraid to reach out to others.
Yet John reminds us that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Love loves in the face of our fears and expels fear from our hearts. When I trust God to protect and prosper me, I have nothing to fear and am free to love. I am free to yield lovingly to God regardless of my circumstances and to unconditionally love others without seeking to protect my own interest.
Paul helps us understand how foreign fear is to authentic faith: “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). A conscious commitment to true love will dispel fear and help drive out other fear-inspired enemies, such as anger, jealousy, and hatred.
A loveless life is often a life that has been victimized by fear. Trust Him to cover your fears and risk an act of love that tells Him how much you love Him. Reach “up” to Him in trust and “out” to others.