I’m going to say it this way even though I think it’s unnecessary and a result of our culture redefining things but we often need to exercise “tough love.” Now I think it need not be stated as “tough love” but some will not understand it without the qualifier.
When I correct or discipline my children, I do not think of it as “tough love” but rather as love. I do not think it is loving to allow them to—let’s say—lie. Lying harms everyone involved. If I were to label anything as “tough love” it would have to be that same problem I must address again for the 1000th time. In other words, it’s tough to continue loving. I would get weary when our kids were younger. But I was always reminded of my own sinfulness and how patient and persistent the Lord was with me!
That gets us chapter 2 in this letter Paul has written to the church in Corinth. It is understood that the person Paul spoke of was possibly the person from chapter 5 in the first letter. Can you imagine having to confront that situation? Confrontation is not something anyone should enjoy but rather love beckons us to action. Why? Why is love not tolerating something like this?
As we saw in the love chapter, it says this: it (love) does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). If this is true, then love demands a loving attempt(s) at correcting the wrongdoing. The church member in chapter 5 of the first letter, was in a gross and embarrassing situation which made him “hard to love” as the quote above alludes to. It’s hard to love him for various reasons.
Part of the difficulties come in what Paul mentions here in chapter 2. To confront this will cause much sorrow and the sorrow will be widespread. Paul even says, “Who’s going to make me glad when all of you are sorrowful?” He wrote the letter prior to his coming so that the issue would be resolved BEFORE he arrived.
What does this type of love look like for Paul? To write such things caused him “much affliction and anguish of heart.” This letter may have had some blurred ink because he wrote it “with many tears.” He even points out the reason: For I wrote to you…not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant *love that I have for you (2 Corinthians 2:4). Love compelled him to this difficult correction.
This person needed such love. We all need people in our lives that would love us this way. It would not have been loving of Paul to hear of such things going on in this person’s life and merely avoided it. I would also add that love doesn’t only confront the wrongdoing but stands with this person to walk WITH them through it. I’ve found the confrontation to be the easy part of this journey compared to the difficulties that lie ahead in making the change.
The consequences are gut wrenching to watch but are often necessary. One must keep an eye of this person. As Paul instructed them “to reaffirm your love for him.” The punishment can cause “excessive sorrow” but they must know that you aren’t going anywhere. LOVE REMAINS! LOVE DOESN’T LEAVE! LOVE COMPELS YOU TO STAY!
We must be aware that any of us are capable of just about anything. We are often arrogant in thinking we would never do this or that. I would caution you from ever thinking this way. In fact, I think it is extremely important to think otherwise so that we remain on guard. And it is a huge help when you have to confront such things as this man in chapter 5. It helps when you are not surprised. Being surprised often leads to inaction and abandonment of the person who need you to help them OUT OF THE WRONGDOING?
I so think this way that I believe it is only wrong but also very dangerous for my soul to be in a church that would not do church discipline. Jesus’ instructions were not optional suggestions. They are the means by which he keeps and shepherds his people. May we love like this!
I will end with this:
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,
20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. – James 5:19-20