More and more I find myself concluding my marriage counseling sessions with words to this effect: “This week please try to focus more on how you can show love to your spouse than you do on how your spouse may not be showing love to you.” I have even found myself giving this counsel to many of the singles members of our church with regard to their dating life.[1]

This counsel is based upon one of the applications of 1 John 4:18. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love cast out fear.” The basic idea is that our understanding of God’s love for us as well as our love for God and neighbor will remove crippling fear from our hearts. 

When we focus upon how we can meet the needs of others in the present (love them) rather than upon how others aren’t loving (or might not at some point in the future love) us (might not meet our needs or fulfil our desires) our struggle with fear (especially fear of rejection), worry, anxiety, jealousy, and irrational suspicion will subside—often very quickly. This biblical shift of focus—this repenting of (rethinking in light of Scripture)—sinful thought patterns and responses is powerful! Indeed it says:

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

The term sound mind may be rendered disciplined thinking. So, it’s all right there in God’s Word. Unleash these two passages (unpack them word by word if necessary) upon the hearts of those you counsel who selfishly focus only on how they are not being loved.

For more on the 1 John 4:18 dynamic please see my booklet entitled Fear: Breaking its Grip.

[1] It seems to be especially valuable for those who struggle with jealousy, suspicion and anxiety.

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