Tough Love. What comes to your mind when you hear these two words together? Some people think that it means to present a difficult truth to someone in need of correction. Some people think that it is sometimes necessary to be harsh.
Well, folks, that’s not what the Word of God says.
If you were tuned in this week, I spent five days talking about the Love of God through the reference of secular love songs:
Monday – What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Tuesday – Love Will Keep Us Together
Wednesday – Love Train/Long Train Running (Without Love, Where Would We Be Right Now)
Thursday – Loving You
Friday – Love Me Tender
Today, I want to dovetail all this into the truth that Love Is Never Tough.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
Let’s take a look at it in the Message Bible:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (MSG) 4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, 5 Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. 8 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.
Now, I want to take a walk through this passage of Scripture but before I do, I want to take a look at a couple of things that will frame this in the right perspective:
Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Here, Jesus is telling us to not only love our enemies but to pray for them, as well. Because what would set us apart if we only love those who we want to love. And, if this is the standard for dealing with our enemies, how much more tender and gentle must we be with those who we find easy to love?
Proverbs 24:17 (ESV) 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
Some folks not only rejoice over the failures of their enemies but over those of their loved ones. You know, “See, I told you…”
Proverbs 25:21 (ESV) 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
There are folks that don’t even like to help out their loved ones, much less their enemies. But God’s standard is to do right by those who cannot or will not do anything for you.
One more thing, Love is the chief Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23:
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) 2 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Let’s dive into the pool now, shall we?
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant – When people resort to “tough love” it is usually because they’ve lost their patience. Other times, it is because they feel a sense of moral superiority. But Scripture is clear that Love is patient and kind and does not lord over others. Love is never rude or imposing…
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; – a lot of “tough love” stems from someone desiring to impose their will upon others. God never trumps our will with His! So if God doesn’t do it, we should not do it! “Tough Love” comes from a place of irritation — in other words, the dispenser of “tough love” simply has “had enough.” I taught some time ago on irritation vs. agitation but, suffice it to say, irritation “tears up” but agitation “stirs up.”
6 Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, – True love never revels in the groveling of others. When you look at the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, you see that the son rehearsed his groveling but his father would hear no part of it! The father could easily have gone through the “I told you so’s” with his son but, instead, he rejoiced that his son came to the truth on his own. God rejoices when we see His truth flower in our lives.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – Love gives us the ability to endure! Now here’s the part where there is some toughness — but it’s toughness to endure, not toughness in how you minister to others! Love believes in everything Good about God and hopes for the best for everyone! Some people simply hope the object of their tough love will just come around and “see things their way.”
8 Love never ends – That’s the Good News. Love never ends, never ceases, never becomes ineffective, NEVER FAILS! Why? Because GOD IS LOVE! God will never die and He will never fail! And, because we are in Him, our nature and character must reflect His!
Sometimes I reflect on all the bad things I’ve done in my life. Then I praise God that He never dealt with me according to my behavior! Because God doesn’t deal with us according to our behavior, we need to pump our brakes in dealing with the behavior of others.
Since there is no TOUGH in the attributes of Love, there is no TOUGH in the Fruit of the Spirit. The Bible often talks about “Firstfruits,” but the firstfruits of the Disciple of Christ is Love. The Bible teaches in many places that if the firstfruit offering is missing, subsequent offerings are rejected. Therefore, the firstfruits must be Love!
The cold reality, here, is that some people cling to the notion of “tough love” because they think it’s okay to say mean and hurtful things and then hide behind their interpretation of Scripture or a banner of misinterpreted love.
Now God imparts a kind of toughness into us to endure the challenges and hardships of the world but that toughness should never be used as a weapon against either those who love us or those who do not.
So, What’s Love Got To Do With It? Everything!
Love Will Keep Us Together because it is the hallmark of discipleship!
The Love Train happens when we link our hearts and hands together to expand the Kingdom!
Loving You is easy because Jesus is beautiful and His Yoke is easy and His burden is light!
And God Loves Us Tender and loves us sweetly!
©2017 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)