Tough Love

Giving to people we know and love is much easier than giving to strangers – it’s just our natural comfort zone.  God knows how we want to give good gifts to our children or other family members.  He compares our willingness to give to our loved ones and questions why we would ever doubt His willingness to give to us, whom He loves dearly, when we have a need.  

"You parents--if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT)

Sometimes, however, we sometimes choose not to give to our children in order to help them develop certain responsibilities.  God is the same way.  We do not always get everything we ask for from Him.  His answers to our requests are either, “yes, no, or wait.”
I am a nurturer and when it comes to my children. I probably nurtured them too much when they were young.  I never realize what I was doing until their dad pointed it out to me.  When the boys were young I would set out the clothes they were going to wear the night before.  I was also their alarm clock each morning, begging them to get out of bed for school.  I was always one step ahead of them in planning out their days. Every day had an agenda.

My children’s dad was a police officer, but when he would get burned out by the stress of the  job he would hit the road driving a tractor-trailer truck across country for a while to clear his head.  The boys enjoyed traveling with him during the summer months while they were out of school.  I would pack their suit cases for each trip.  I would have their shirts matched with their shorts and socks so all they would have to do is pull out one set at a time to get dressed each day.  I thought I was doing the right “mommy” thing.  But their dad could see future problems with my over-nurturing.  He informed me that if I continued this process the boys would never be able to think for themselves.  I couldn’t see that at the time, but as the next couple of years rolled by I began to see the effects.

We call it “tough love” when we back off and say “no” sometimes or let something happen as a result of choices our children make.  Eventually I taught the boys how to pick out their own clothes and how to plan their own days.  I bought alarm clocks for them to wake themselves up for school.  Then I backed off.  It was harder for me than it was for them.  There were many times I still had to wake them up because they would not hear the clock go off.  There were days they could not find clean socks or underwear, but eventually they learned.

God has His tough-love moments as well.  We get ourselves into situations and cry out to Him to get us out of them.  Sometimes He gets us out of our situations, but sometimes He doesn’t and He just leaves us right there in the middle of it.  Then we question where God is in the situation.  He allows us to make good and bad choices for our lives.  The consequences of those choices will always come.  When the bad choices produce bad consequences and He doesn’t intervene, we learn.  If He came to our rescue each and every time we got ourselves into the messes we get into, we would never learn.  We learn from tough love.

God puts others in our lives in place to help us mature in our walk with Him.  He has given us pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles and prophets to speak truth and point the right way for us.

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT)

Today, both of my boys are grown, married, have children of their own and are making very good choices for their lives.

Take some time today to reflect on a time that you learned from God’s “tough love” and thank Him for it.

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