Guess What?! You get to hear from someone else today! One of my very dearest friends, Chrissy Lawson, agreed to share her thoughts on tough love with you today.
I met Chrissy when my husband was stationed at Fort Bragg. Both of our husbands were deployed at the same time. God kindly orchestrated for Chrissy and I to work together at GNC on the base. What a blessing! Through Chrissy, I met April and through them I met Jackie and the four of us have grown in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ ever since, albeit, long distance.
Several years ago, I was actually privileged to watch Jesus woo Chrissy to Himself. Since that time, God has developed in her a heart so fully His that I have to admit, sometimes I’m jealous! I know you will enjoy hearing from her today. Please leave your comments and share your experiences with tough love in your family.
harsh or stern behavior, often thought cruel by the recipient, with the end goal of their higher good. (Abby’s definition)
Is tough love biblical?
How many times were the Israelites disciplined by God? Too many to count it seems. Did you ever read the biblical accounts and thought, “man, that was harsh!” I have found myself saying that every once in a while. It’s only when we truly see the character of God that we can comprehend why he did what he did.
King David had wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He gathered the chosen men of Israel to go get and bring it back from the Philistines. They put the Ark on a cart and Uzzah and Ahio were leading it.
“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. David became angry because of the LORD’S outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.” 2 Samuel 6:6-8
Doesn’t that seem a little overboard? God killed someone for touching the Ark. If you understand the character of God, then you understand why he did this. You see, he is HOLY, perfect and righteous. He gave the Israelites clear instructions on how to move the objects to worship him. When David wanted to move it, no one stopped to think, “hey lets read the directions first.” Instead they picked up what they wanted and moved on. If they would have just looked to God first they would have seen that under no circumstances were they allowed to touch the Ark. God wasn’t lashing out at them, he was acting according to who is his. He demands perfection and obedience to his law.
This incident, it led David to read the instructions and do it right the second time. God’s laws were respected this time around.
Psalm 78 very clearly illustrates God’s patience and tough love with his chosen people. The Israelites forgot so quickly the miracles that God performed all around them. He freed them from captivity, killed the Egyptians who were trying to kill them, fed them, gave them water from a rock. Yet they still questioned and tested him. He became furious and allowed other nations to capture and defeat them. They would cry out to God and he would save them. Isn’t that tough love? He is the best father you could ever imagine and yet the Israelites grumbled against him! He became furious and allowed their wicked hearts to do what they wanted and allowed the consequences.
But when they turned back to him, he opened his arms to them.
The prodigal son is a great example of a “softer” tough love. The son asked for his inheritance early, before his father had passed. The father did so and allowed his son to take off on his own. When the son became so hard-up that he considered eating pig slop he realized what he had left at home. He came home to a father with open arms. Of course this is a parable about God’s relationship with the sinner. But do you see that as parents we can give our children tough love? God did it to his chosen people, and today, if our hearts are hard he does it to us.
When it comes to the serious things: drugs, alcohol, dishonoring and disrespecting parents, I think we should implement tough love. After much grace (which God did over and over again) we need to say enough is enough and do something about it. Maybe it’s intervention, maybe it’s throwing them out of the house. We need to pray and trust the God of all creation to watch over them. We put our children in HIS hands. When they turn from their destructive ways we open our arms and welcome them home!
When our children are simply rebelling and want their freedom, again I think we need to give them tough love so that they can grow. Allow them to step out (age appropriate of course) and grow. When they come home give them grace abundantly. Isn’t that what God gives us? When we mess up and then turn to him, he forgives and forgives completely. You can’t parent without discipline and grace.