We’ve all heard the phrase “tough love”, maybe even experienced it in our adolescence as we clumsily navigated through some rebellious patch of our life growing up. Hopefully you are not still stuck there. It can be painful both as a parent and a recipient of tough love. I however, have been experiencing tough love of a different nature lately and this morning took a moment to meditate on it. What I’m dealing with is how love can be tough. It’s hard to love people sometimes.
I have had a number of instances over the last year and especially recently where I was deeply struggling to feel and be loving toward people. I have felt like the Apostle Paul in Romans where he said:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” Romans 7:18
Paul endured all kinds of things at the hands of other people and he struggled with doing the right thing, the loving thing. He reveals our inner conflict between the spirit and the flesh in us. I have a desire to do the loving thing but sometimes my mind is saying stick it to them. We have a tendency to justify our feelings or subsequent actions, because after all we were done wrong, they are being unreasonable or we are the victim. That all may be true but the conflict remains and reveals our true problem. To be true to the Spirit in us, we must love and be loving.
As I read Romans 5 I find the problem with and answer to my dilemma:
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
The demands of life and the demands of God are so great that I don’t have a chance to do right without Him. God knows the selfish and self-preserving nature of our flesh. We are without the hope of consistent love without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Without Jesus and the gift of His Spirit we do not have the capacity to love the unloveable. We will revert to our flesh and flesh will always protect flesh. It defaults to self-preservation.
However, even as a believer we will have to believe the promise of God’s love. Through His Spirit He has poured out His love in our hearts giving us His capacity to love even in the harshest of conditions. Love is tough, but its impossible without God’s love. So before we begin to excuse our unloving behavior by what others have done to us, we need to draw deep from the well of God’s love and remember that even in moments of injustice and persecution God gives us the capacity to manifest the love of Jesus through our mortal flesh.
Love may be tough, but not impossible.
Who do you need to forgive today?