Tough Love

tlblogThere was something different about the way that Jesus loved people. It was a tough kind of love. Jesus was aware of people’s sin and yet He loved people at the same time.  He ate with thieves and the prostitutes, and they wanted to be around Him.

Jesus conveyed truth and love at the same time.

To the woman caught in adultery in He made both of these statements.

Neither do I condemn you.
Go and sin no more.

She left that day overwhelmed by His love and mercy.

Here is the really tough part. Jesus asks us to love one another like He loved us.

I’m going to be honest with you. I’m a pastor. I’ve been in ministry my entire adult life. It’s not easy to love like Jesus loved.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:34-35

There are times when it is really hard to love people.

There are times that I have failed miserably.

There is the time I yelled at the lady behind the counter at U-Haul for not giving me my deposit back.

The time I emotionally pushed my 18 year-old son away for not going by the house rules.

I could write a long list here, but it’s too painful.

The hardest people to love are the people that hurt you when you are trying to help them. If you are in ministry or any kind of leadership role in church, you have had this experience. If you are a leader, people are going to take shots at you. It just comes with the territory.

Is it really possible to love like Jesus loved? Can I walk in the same kind of Tough Love that He did? No I can’t, but with the Holy Spirit’s help I can.

When I talk about Tough Love I mean that we need to develop thick skins and soft hearts. When people say hurtful things about me my first thought is to defend myself or I want to make them pay. I want to say hurtful things back at them.

Then I remember that Jesus not only died for my sins, He died for those that sinned against me. They don’t have to pay for their sins because Jesus already paid the price. This empowers me to forgive and forgiveness helps to thicken my skin and soften my heart at the same time.

The key to Tough Love is forgiveness. If someone has hurt you and you can’t forgive, stop trying to forgive them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Not only does Jesus tell us to forgive, but also He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us do it.

Mark Harper

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