Hello, dear friends. This is your lucky day! Both Chrissy and Beth have agreed to share their observations on the concept of tough love. You’ve heard from Beth before. She is my dearest friend from Oklahoma. Though our face-to-face time is very limited, God has abundantly blessed our friendship. Every time I speak to her, I am challenged, encouraged and most of all – loved. But I confess – she is not shy about convicting. Beth will tell me the truth, regardless of what I want to hear. Thanks, Beth!
Should Love Be Tough?
What is love? Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Whether you read the Bible or not, the definition of love in First Corinthians is pretty universal. It can also be said that love is putting someone else before you. So, if that is the definition of love, what is tough love?
Patient – Allowing someone to make mistakes in life and suffer the consequences. Not fixing their problem for them.
Kind – Building your spouse up with encouraging words instead of always tearing him/her down.
Not jealous – Celebrating with someone when they are succeeding in life and you are still in the same place.
Does not brag – Being humble with what God has graciously given you.
Not arrogant – Realizing that life is not about you. Seek ways to serve others and not your own desires.
Does not act unbecoming – When things don’t go your way, don’t throw a fit or pout or let the entire world know you are unhappy.
Does not seek its own – Not always doing what’s easy or fun for you. Serving others even when it’s inconvenient or not what you want to do.
Is not provoked – Never being so angry that you hurt someone physically, sexually or emotionally.
Does not take into account a wrong suffered – Letting go of the anger or bitterness that was caused by another. Not holding a grudge, but letting someone “off the hook”.
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness – When a friend does something that is acceptable by the world’s standards (premarital sex, putting her husband down, getting an abortion) don’t be the one who glorifies/celebrates the sin.
Rejoices in truth – Speaking the truth can be hard. Learn to do it with love and know that God blesses obedience.
Bears all things – Carry the load with a friend. Pray for them. Take time to call them. Write them. Encourage them through a difficult time. Try to do things often so they know you remember.
Believes all things – Trust that your spouse can make a good decision. Don’t question every single thing they say or do. Just believe in him/her!
Hopes all things – Be excited about the future. Celebrate someone’s adventure, even if it means they are taking a different path in life that may lead them miles away from you.
Endures all things – Be there until the end. Stick with the relationship. Sometimes life can be hard and you become a little self-centered, but be quick to pull out of it and don’t lose a friendship just because life isn’t going the way you thought.
Love never fails – Even when a person has hit rock-bottom, be there for them. Not to fix their problems, but just so they know you aren’t going anywhere. Don’t give up on them.
Is love ever easy? Some might think so, especially in the beginning of a relationship. Not just a romantic relationship, but when a mom holds her baby for the first time or meeting a friend that you instantly click with. It’s easy in the beginning and it really should be.
However, if you want a relationship to grow and truly be more than an acquaintance, it’s going to be tough. At some point you will have a disagreement. You will have circumstances that you have to see each other through. Life gets in the way.
Why do we continue to settle for relationships that aren’t based on tough, godly love? They bring us down! They make us weak and not able to live the life of freedom that Christ gave us through salvation. This is not what God intended for us. God doesn’t let us have every little thing we want in life. His love is tough! Because of His love, He continues to makes us better. He strengthens us. We should be looking for and offering that same kind of love in our relationships. If we want to love people, then we have to mimic the One who is love. Love is who God is. Through Him, we can love others and ourselves the way He does.
Tough love begins with a choice. We need to make the decision to love. Whether it be in the good, the bad, the easy or the hard circumstances of life. There will always be times of joy and laughter. But, know that there will be things that you cannot fix. Know there will be tears. Know that some relationships will be harder than others and will require boundaries. God never promised that life would be easy. Being tough means to be strong and durable or being capable of great endurance (www.dictionary.com). This doesn’t come from our own trying, but comes from Jesus Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength” (Philippians 4:13). When we allow Christ to be the center of our lives and decide to be obedient only to Him, then we find our true identity and can be strong in Him.
Tough love is about making difficult decisions that make us more like Christ. Serving others and placing their needs above your own. Allowing them to make mistakes and loving them through it.
Make the decision to be what love is in First Corinthians. When looking for relationships, do not settle for “easy”. Make the choice to love one another. Encourage one another. Strengthen one another in the Lord. It may be tough, but well worth it in the end.