Please take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 7.
The Apostle Paul wrote four letters to the church at Corinth. Two of those letters were lost and the second and fourth are in our Bibles as 1st and 2nd Corinthians. In Paul's third letter (which was lost to us) he apparently said some hard things to the church at Corinth, but those hard things led to positive change.
"Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it... I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while... yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Have you ever had a situation where you felt called to have a tough conversation with someone? Maybe it was a friend that was making a poor life choice, or a person in a toxic relationship or a brother in an unrepentant sin. In these situations we know what we should do. We think, "Someone should talk to him." Maybe that someone is you.
If you are in a real, deep, loving relationship with someone you will have a time when you need to exercise tough love with them. So, how do we do it? I don't have all the answers but here is how the Apostle Paul did it.
Paul exercised tough love rooted in real love. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and was tough with them because he deeply loved them. It hurt him to see them going on the way they were. Paul wasn't trying to feel superior to them, he was trying to love them. As you can see in the passage above Paul didn't regret giving them tough love but he did kind of regret it because it hurt them. It seems the last thing Paul wanted to do was exercise tough love, but he loved them too much not to.
Paul gave a Godly rebuke that dealt with the root of the problem. Paul was after Godly sorrow in the Corinthians. He said "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow leads to death." Paul realized that Godly sorrow is being sorry for one's sin; worldly sorrow is being sorrow you got caught or hurt. Paul wrote to the Corinthians to bring about Godly sorrow that leads to true repentance.
Paul's tough love led to life change and encouragement. Paul loved the church at Corinth enough to rebuke them, but then he also loved them enough to encourage them when they receive his criticism well. Paul understood that receiving criticism is hard to do. When Titus told Paul all the good things the Corinthians were doing Paul was encouraged and wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them, too. Paul didn't leave them hanging in the sorrow he helped produce.
We see how Paul exercised tough love. Now, are you being called to do this, too? Is there someone you love too much to watch them hurt themselves or run from God? If so, love them enough to try to set them back on the narrow path of salvation.
"Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses."
Real friendship, real church requires tough love. Do you love enough to help bring your brothers and sisters to repentance? Are you mature enough to receive constructive criticism?
Love courageously and don't fear to exercise tough love that is true love today.