Dr. Martin Seitz – “Holy Love May Also Be Expressed as Tough Love”
“Have somewhat against you;… therefore,… repent….” – Revelation 2:3-5 (NIV)
Many people limit themselves to thinking of Jesus as being gentle, meek, and mild in His expressions of love. I believe God in Jesus demonstrates both tender and tough love. The following examples indicate how Jesus showed His love for people in what I call five tough love languages: (1) refusing, (2) relinquishing, (3) refuting, (4) reprimanding, and (5) repudiating.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus a question, trying to trick Him, He refused to answer (Luke 20:8-18). When a rich young ruler asked Jesus what to do to inherit eternal life, the young man was unwilling to do what was required, yet Jesus let him go. Jesus relinquished attempts to control the man’s choice, showing love by letting him choose his own fate. Jesus refuted the Pharisees and reprimanded His disciples (Matthew 23; 8:25-26). Finally, as a last resort, Jesus even threatened to repudiate, to refuse to have anything to do with, some people and, through Paul, encouraged His followers to do the same (Revelation 3:16; 20:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11). Jesus is gentle and merciful to the humble, but He can be tough with the unrepentant, the faithless, and the proud.
- Dr. Martin Seitz, Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences