Tough love is often real love

2 Corinthians 7:8-10

For even if I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it — even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a little while. Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance.  For you were grieved as God willed so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.

white love free standing letters
Photo by Swapnil Deshpandey on

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was a letter of tough love.

He knew that his letter had the potential to grieve the recipients. Paul loved the Corinthian church and wanted them to get out of their sinful behaviors. So he dealt with those sins head-on. It wasn’t his intent to tear them down but he was willing to do whatever it took to get them back on the right track.

Paul showed them real love—tough love.

Many people like to throw the word love around. And they love to talk about people showing love. But what they often mean by it is someone who never confronts them about anything and shows them tolerance.

But is that real love?

Is simply looking the other way really showing true love.

Paul didn’t think so. He loved them and because he loved them was willing to hurt their feeling in order to get his message across.

And we will have to do the same thing.

You will have to develop a thick skin

even if I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it

Tempers will go up. Hurtful words might be returned. The person might retaliate.

No one really likes to be confronted.

So you will need to be ready for the worst. You will have to build a tolerance.

You will have to be lovingly truthful and say it like you mean it. And then get ready for the fireworks.

You will have to wait…healing takes time

I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a little while

Often times we don’t want to say what’s is right and true because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or possibly shake up the relationship.

Here’s an analogy to help you think through this.

Surgeons have to make an incision in order to cut out or repair whatever is hurting their patient. Yes, the cut will hurt and will take time to heal but it will be worth it.

If the doctor chose not to do this because of the pain it would cause, the person might be fine for a little while but eventually, the untreated problem will take its toll.

Some deeps cuts will be necessary. Saying truth out of genuine love, even if it offends that person, will be necessary.

And then you will have to wait for healing to take place.

You will have to keep your eyes on the outcome…the benefits far outweigh the negative

Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance

Paul’s rebuke led to repentance. Much like a surgery leads to restored health, truth said with love leads to spiritual health.

Keep this in mind, because confrontation is not the easiest thing. So there will have to be something that outweighs the fear.

That’s what Paul did. He knew the benefits far outweighed the difficulty.

Tough love is often real love

To show true love you will have to be willing to love them through to good times and the bad times. And some days that will require tough love.

13 thoughts on “Tough love is often real love

  1. I appreciate your reflections on this text. Thanks for sharing! ~Stanley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Stanley! I appreciate the input.


  2. Great post man. I am thinking of times I have had to parent my own children. It seems like the times they learn the best lessons often involve some form of tough love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, bro. Most definitely. Parenting is full of moments where I can either let it slide, get them out of trouble or show them, tough love.


  3. One look at the cross and we know what love is. Real love can be messy. God’s hands that build also prune away. But, they are both acts of love. I can be a real nervous wreck when it comes to tough love, because I don’t want to come across as judgmental. However, reflections such as this one help keep the purpose of godly love in perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point Julieanne! It’s amazing how at the cross God shows us His perspective on Love, Sacrifice, Obedience, Sin, etc. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ive never believed in tough love. I believe in admonishing, ssying the truth, but in love. If we’re too harsh with words, we can really hurt people & this shouldnt be. Like they say, its not what you say, its how you say it. The Holy Spirit will guide us when we need to have those tough concersations. We should ask for that through prayer & not go in without it. ❤💪God bless. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. And I think the Apostle Paul would agree. I think tough love has as much to do with what you say and do as with how you say and do it. The end goal, after all, is restoring the person and relationship. Great insight, thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen, very true, thank you. God bless u! 🙌🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravo, such vital truths! In this time of rampant compromise and apostasy, speaking the truth in love will cost us. But if our eyes are fixed upon Jesus and eternity, a grief should rise up and compel us to prayerfully warn others….there is always consequence to sin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really appreciated your words!! Caring for others has much more to it!! Thanks for the reminder!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really does. Thanks for the comment!


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