1 John 4:17-18 (New Century Version)
This is how love is made perfect in us: that we can be without fear on the day God judges us, because in this world we are like him. Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears.
Why does criticism hurt? Why does betrayal seem unforgivable? Why do mistakes shame us and trigger defensive maneuvers?
The answer is fear of judgment. We fear being exposed for inadequacies and blemishes that would make others despise us. Beneath our outrage and hurt over a betrayal, we fear that it only confirms our unworthiness to be loved. We dread the moment when our real self is exposed to the world, and the world turns away in disgust.
Such fear, Scripture tells us, shows that God still has work to do in our hearts. His love in us cannot be perfected until we admit our faults and mistakes and confess our need for mercy. The truth is, we are flawed and selfish; we are unworthy of heaven. The apostle Paul reminds us, There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). Because we are made in God’s image, we intuitively know that he is our measure for perfection, and we also feel the awful tension of knowing how far we fall short of this measure.
Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we can admit our flaws and our need for God’s mercy without shame or defensiveness. With Christ’s perfection to cover us, we don’t need to pretend that we are perfect. We can face a world of flawed sinners like ourselves and not be afraid of exposure, confident that God already values us as a precious son or daughter, perfected in Christ Jesus, and loved with an everlasting love.
FATHER, I confess to hiding my faults from others because I fear their condemnation. I pretend to a perfection that only Christ can achieve, and I dread being exposed as a fraud. Correct my misguided belief that I must be perfect before I can be loved. Your opinion of me is the one that matters most; help me to know my worth in you so I can be free to live an authentic life before others without fear.
Romans 4:7-8; 8:1
What are you most reluctant to let people know about you?