This Is What Tough Love Looks Like
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…(1 Corinthians 13: 4-8).
I want to finish discussing The other side of love today. Remember that love does not rejoice in injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. There is a side of the love walk that is confrontational when correction may possibly transform a life or protect others. You could call this tough love. For the rest of this blog, let’s look at how tough love acts.
Proverbs 27:5 reads: Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Today’s English Version makes it clear: “Better to correct someone openly than to let him think you don’t care for him at all.” Love wants what is best for the other person, even if at the moment it takes a tough stand. Today we call it tough love.
Jesus is our Savior from sin, and He is also our example of living in a fallen world. Notice that he didn’t smile and shake hands with the hypocrites selling their wares in the temple. Rather, He took out a whip, and drove them away. He overturned their tables for money exchange, let loose the animals they were selling, and challenged their ungodly deceiving actions! Did Jesus walk in love? Of course He did.
Jesus called the religious leaders of His day hypocrites and whitewashed graves full of dead men’s bones! Why did He act that way towards them? Because He loved them enough to be real and honest with them. He loved others enough to expose the leaders’ wrong behavior lest others become infected with it and fall into the same trap.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica to have nothing to do with a person who is purposely acting in an ungodly way. He tells them to that a person who doesn’t work (and is able to) should not be able to eat for free. He tells them not to fellowship with a believer who is living in a divisive, ungodly way so that the deceived believer will be ashamed of himself and repent! “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3: 14-15).
On the surface, that seems unloving, but a closer look would reveal a heart desire to rescue a believer that may be headed down a path of destructive behavior.
In Titus 3:10-11, again Paul asserts tough love on a man who has been told to correct his behavior repeatedly, and just simply refuses to listen. He tells the church there in Crete to have nothing to do with him: “If anyone is causing divisions among you, he should be given a first and second warning. After that have nothing more to do with him, (11) for such a person has a wrong sense of values. He is sinning, and he knows it” (The Living Bible)
In 1 Corinthians 5, we find Paul dealing with a man who is involved in an immoral relationship with his step-mother, and is flaunting his actions in the church in Corinth. Read the entire chapter and you’ll find Paul acting in love as he turns the man over to the devil so that his spirit would be saved. He then tells the Christians in the church to have absolutely no fellowship with this man until he repents! This is so lacking in our ultra permissive, postmodern culture!
In Hebrews 12: 5-11, we find that God chastens and deals strongly with those he really loves. And in Revelation 3: 14-20, we find Jesus telling the church in Laodicea to repent of their lukewarmness or He will vomit them out of His mouth! He says in verse 19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent.”
God is love, and love, though kind is also full of discipline and honesty. Fear keeps the peace at all costs, even to the point of holding back from needed confrontation. Proverbs 28:23 makes it so clear: He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.
In summary, love is kind to all, does not respond in kind to wrongs committed against it, and will be silent toward personal persecution. But, love will defend the weak and stand for truth when unfair actions hurt others.
May the Lord enable us all to be set free from fear that refuses to confront problems when necessary, and to be filled with the love of God which “does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.”