There is a book in the Bible with a chapter that is referred to as “The Love Chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This chapter offers some qualities that love should display. It says love is:
- Not jealous
- Not boastful
- Not Proud
- Not Rude
- Does not demand its own way
- Not irritable
- Does not hold grudges
- Does not rejoice in injustice but rejoices in justice
- Never gives up
- Never loses faith
- Always hopeful
- Endures in every situation
We often view love as this difficult-to-describe feeling we have about someone or something. We talk about falling into it and falling out of it. However, these qualities seem to give a clearer picture of what love really looks like and provide a more objective measure by which to determine whether or not love is something we are truly living out. Love is not just something we say, but something we do.
If love is something we do, then what is it that keeps us from exhibiting these qualities? What is the thing that causes us not to exhibit the characteristics of love to other people. Recently I asked some people “what is the opposite of love?”. Almost instantaneously, 100% of the answers were hate. That was my first response as well until I gave it some further thought and came to a different conclusion – fear. It is nearly impossible for fear and love to coexist.
If you look at each of these qualities of love it is easy to see how fear can be the antithesis of each one. Fear is the very thing that causes us to act in ways that are opposite to the qualities of love. From our fear of missing out on something causing us to be impatient to the fear we cannot accomplish what we set out to do that causes us to give up, fear is constantly creating havoc in relationships. There are several reasons why fear is so effective in paralyzing us or getting us to act in ways that betray what we desire to exemplify, here are a few.
Deception is a critical factor in fear. Fear will cause us to believe things that are not true or at the very least disguise part of the truth. When fear enters in we begin to use always, never and every, which are rarely accurate depictions of any circumstance. Fear usually presents only the worst case scenario. When we are deceived we tend to act in ways that do not reflect the truth. We make choices differently than we would if we saw the correct picture.
Fear plays to what we don’t know
It has been said that “what we don’t know won’t hurt us”, but that doesn’t remove the fact that we are still afraid it will. There are virtually no situations where we have 100% of the information or know all of the possible scenarios. There are going to be times when we are completely surprised even when we have done our best to research the situation. Fear tends to play to those surprise moments being the rule instead of the exception. It causes us to believe that the things we do not know are more dangerous or harmful than the things we have already taken into consideration. We even have a common phrase in our vocabulary to describe this: “fear of the unknown”. Being informed is important but we must be careful not to allow a lack of information to cripple our ability to make decisions and act wisely in relationships.
Have you ever been afraid to do something and then you finally did it and said “That wasn’t so bad”. The needle at the doctor’s office. Riding a roller coaster for the first time. Your first airplane flight. Speaking in front of a group of people. Fear exaggerates the pain we might experience or the danger that might be present. Flying is a perfect example of that. Fear keeps many people from flying but those same people travel thousands of miles in an automobile every year which statistically is more dangerous. Because only some car accidents make the news while every airplane crash makes the headlines, it is easy for our fears to exaggerate the dangers of flying. Fear rarely lives up to expectation.
How does fear affect your ability to love others? Does it make you impatient or rude? Are you afraid of someone else’s opinion so you demand your own way? Does fear cause you to give up too easily? Being aware of the affect fear has on our ability to love will allow us to overcome it more effectively. Be aware of your fears. Fear is poison to love. It may be the very thing that is limiting the most important relationships in your life.
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