Fear is a powerful thing, and every parent knows it.
A little bit of fear will conform the behavior of my children. All I have to do is threaten to take away something they love, and it’s crazy to see how fast they go from demonic to angelic. It’s tempting to use fear as a permanent parenting tool.
But God’s way is different. Perfect love doesn’t use fear. It drives out fear.
God is interested in our outward behavior only insomuch as it’s a reflection of what’s in our inner hearts. If good behavior was what he was after, the angels would have sufficed. If outward behavior was his goal, the threat of hell would be all it takes.
But the loving Father in heaven is after something much more important: your heart. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” (Titus 2:11,12).
Fear conforms your behavior, but grace transforms your decisions.
Today you may have to interact with someone whose behavior isn’t okay. Maybe it’s a toddler. Maybe it’s an employee. Maybe it’s an employee who acts like a toddler.
I guarantee you that fear will instantly conform the behavior. That’s the easy way to go about it.
But what would it look like to treat that person with grace? Find someone today whose life could use some change. But instead of conforming with fear, transform him or her with the same grace that God shows you.