You’ve heard the term Tough Love before. Often this is in reference to the way that parents treat a disobedient child. They might cut the childÂ off financially or even emotionally, to punish them for serious discipline problems - or to keep from ‘enabling’ them.
This came to mind to me tonight, the term Tough Love, as I was meditating on the Word. I recalled in Jesus’ teaching that he compared God to an earthly parent, so that we might grasp the concept:
Mat 7:9 â€œWhich of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Mat 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
Mat 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
In the book of Hebrews, the author quotes Proverbs in teaching us about God’s discipline:
Hbr 12:5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
â€œMy son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
Hbr 12:6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.â€
Hbr 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
Hbr 12:8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Hbr 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
In Romans, Paul says:
Rom 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, â€œAbba, Father.â€
Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
We are God’s children. Imagine how our own children grieve us with their opposition and negative behavior. How it tears our hearts out that we can invest years of our time and energy… to have them tell us or show us that it meant nothing to them. Imagine loving your child more than anything else on this earth, but knowing there is nothing at all that you can do to help them.
Parents face these issues every day. With young children, teenagers… and even adult children. It is heartbreaking, and tough love is one of the most difficult things a parent ever has to put into practice. Yet they do it - for the benefit of their child - because they love them that much.
I’m not necessarily an advocate of ‘tough love’ (or not), but I do agree that you cannot go on enabling a bad behavior or a major negative problem. I know, as a parent myself, that discipline is necessary to raise a child. And you do have to set boundaries as to what you will and will not tolerate. Sometimes this means refusing a child until they make acceptable choices (such as discontinuing drug use, for example)… so that they can learn and change.
I thought of these things as I prayed to God, and called him Father. I imagined how grieved he must be with his own children at times. How sad it must make him, and how hard it is for him to watch us learn our own lessons along the way - because we didnt listen to his wisdom and truth…
But I am glad that He loves us enough to welcome us when we turn back to him. That he corrects us and disciplines us, and watches for our returnÂ - because this shows the depth of his love for us…
Mat 18:12 â€œWhat do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninetyâ€‘nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?
Mat 18:13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninetyâ€‘nine that did not wander off.