Galatians 5:5,6 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Ask a successful pastor, politician or businessman what fuels the engine that drives them toward success, and if they are honest they will admit that it is a mixture of both faith and fear. We either live by faith (“the just shall live by faith…”), by fear or by a mixture of the two. I fear poverty, so I work hard. I fear disease so I eat well. I fear God’s anger, so I go to church, pray and read my Bible. I fear the consequences of sin so I avoid watching too much television, eating too many chocolate chip cookies, or stealing money from my company. A lot more is accomplished through fear than we may first have realized.
Here is a question. What motivated you to ask Jesus to be your Savior? Most of us were overwhelmed by His love. Most of us cannot even claim a desire to be saved or an understanding of why we needed salvation in the first place. Most of us were children when we asked Jesus to come into our lives. We were overtaken by His Holy Spirit and measureless love. God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die in the place of sinners like you and I. Yes, some were saved because they were afraid of hell, but the greatest and most voluminous appeal of scripture is the love of God. Furthermore, the commandment given most often in the Bible is to fear not. This command is given, in one form or another, over a thousand times. So, even those saved by fear are exhorted to learn love, as we see in 1 John4:19: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”
Fear has its place, but fear of the Lord is only the beginning of wisdom. Faith, working through love, avails…something. Faith, mixed with fear, dilutes our understanding of God and His motives. If you are in Christ then the Object of your fear, God’s judgment and wrath against sin, has been placated, satisfied, appeased, set at ease.
Fear already did its job. Perhaps fear singlehandedly placed and now keeps you on the good path you are on this very moment. Stay on the path, but learn to do it by the quality of faith that is drenched in the oil of God’s holy love. Let love be the gas that drives the engine of your upward progress toward heavenly habitations. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Even His chastening is wholly motivated by love for you. Every prick to your conscience, every proving of your faith is the God who loves you so much that He cannot take His hand away from you. He is motivated to make the best of the little time left, knowing that the quality of your eternal experience in heaven will be heavily influenced by the rains, pains and gains while here on Earth.
Rest the entire weight of your forward progress upon this truth: “God is love.” Again, rest the entire weight of your forward progress upon this truth and its full implication. The verse goes on to say that he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16. Learn to rest in God’s love and you will live with an unprecedented sense of intimacy with God.
Now as you know, forward progress in the kingdom of God does not always feel entirely forward. Sometimes, in fact, it feels backward. “A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24. It is not our job to comprehend God’s ways, only to learn to rest in them.
You were saved in love through faith, now let this understanding, despite your meandering progress, infuse your faith with love, so that as you live by faith, so also will you live by love.