Tough Love


Many of us remember the famous documentary called ” Scared Straight”. Wikipedia describes it as follows, “Scared Straight! is a 1978 documentary directed by Arnold Shapiro. Narrated by Peter Falk, the subject of the documentary is a group of juvenile delinquents and their three-hour session with actual convicts. Filmed at Rahway State Prison, a group of inmates known as the “lifers” berate, scream at, and terrify the young offenders in an attempt to “scare them straight” (hence the film’s title) so that those teenagers will avoid prison life.”

There can be no doubt that the above is an extreme example of–tough love. The object is to reach out yet because of the circumstances, the approach is somewhat harsh and  firm. The situation calls for more than “nice words” to reach the parties. Let us look at a similar plan that God’s inspired word teaches us. A path that although “tough” is the right one to reach the wayward or lost.

Some of us also remember when we were kids, our mothers would make us take that awful tasting medicine. We’d yell and scream-“no, no!” Then in a little while we’d be much better and realize that the tough medicine really was good for us.Those with child like faith and humbleness would also see that tough love medicine is good for them, if they would repent from their unrighteousness.

In (Gal.6:10) we read,”So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Here we see that we are “especially” to do good to our brothers and sisters in the faith. There should be a special interest here. But when we desire to do good, could it be that being tough and firm, is the right approach, the real way to “do good” under a specific situation? We care so much for them that we give them tough medicine because under the circumstance, this is the best hope for a “cure”. A way to make them awake and hopefully to help them see that they are heading down the wrong path, potentially a deadly path.

Another example of tough love is from the Lord Himself, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten…” (Rev.3:19). Our Lord loves us enough to straighten us out by correction in rebuke and chastising.

Some of us brethren have witnessed  brothers or sisters “in the faith” who take it upon themselves to kind of be the lone ranger, the gunslinger (spiritually) if you will. They closely watch others with a keen eye. Ready to criticize or rebuke at any thing they might witness that was not to their liking. They scour Facebook. Soon they leave a trail of discord. The brothers and sisters are all witnesses to the dissension they put forth, which they claim as God inspired.

Their approach is not Biblical because they fail to consult a couple of “neutral” brethren on the thing which they accuse the brethren publicly. Neutral parties could help collaborate it or not. All of this is the God inspired practice of settling the issue.

But over time it appears that nothing good comes from their attempt to straighten out what they claim as error. Worse yet some publicly lambasted the brethren. In (Roman 16:17) we read, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

So what are we to do with such a brethren? We are to give him tough love. That means avoid them. We shouldn’t appease them and mislead them by supporting them in any way. If we take the attitude of a sister who suggested that we “continue to love them and support them”, we are  in fact  dismissing our duty. Her idea of love is not real love, its false love and security, and goes against clear Scripture. Kind of like “forget your medicine brother, we’ll let you die but we love you.”

Remember sowing discord is one of the things the Lord hates. “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:…A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”(Proverbs 6:16-19)

Paul gives us clear tough love advice, “”If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matt. 18:15-17).

Again Paul counsels, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”(Titus 3:10-11)

So here we see that we reach out first. If that fails we separate ourselves from them. The objective is to send a clear desperate signal that what they are doing is not right, even if they think it is. It is important , though, to let them know before you dis-associate from them why you are doing so and with the appropriate inspired words of God. This will at least let them know your reasons and they’ll hopefully ponder them. If you are somewhat close to them or friendly, this most surely will send a strong signal to awake IF their conscience  is not seared.

One thing you should not do is leave then with out telling them why. This would be most selfish and leave nothing but confusion with the person you are suppose to be helping.

What about a brother or sister who teaches a doctrine not firmly supported by the Scriptures, SOP, or Elijah message?  John has our tough love answer. ” He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”(2 John verses 9-11).

That’s very strong tough love, ” do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” How many of us today do this? But it’s the firm word of God is it not? Are we to ignore it has too harsh? No, it’s God tough love medicine to make them think strongly of their wrong course.

Today we hear from our pastors and leaders, “love everybody, fellowship with Sunday keepers, just accept them for who they are.” In fact it’s even worse than that. See the post “Backs to the Temple” of how we have not  turned them away from our house but welcomed them with arms wide open!

Let us review what we have learned. We should want to help those who we know to be in error. But we should be prepared that, should they dismiss our reaching out to them, we must dis-fellowship from them in order to send a serious signal that we see their path as a dangerous one.

So what are the main things we should consider in dis-fellowshipping with the brethren? To summarize —

1) Sowing discord — Constant criticizing, judging, arguing and so forth surely causes discord. As such we cannot support such behavior.

2) Spreading false doctrine — As we are obedient in the Lord, we’ll be helped to know what is from God and what is not. You can rest assured that those who are spreading false doctrine are not obeying the Lord, somewhere , somehow they are dis-obeying Him. The Spirit of Truth is promised us (John 16:13) and once we have received this gift we shall know Truth. Thus we cannot associate with those wanting to subvert His truth.

Some of the false doctrine may include :

a) Teaching that there is to come more than one prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

b) Teaching that no church purification happens prior to the Loud Cry.

c) Teaching that tells us we have to keep all the feasts and ceremonies. Jesus’ blood did not cover that.

d) Teaching of extreme grace. Our sins can remain in our life and practicing them is of no consequence to our salvation. The Lord forgives us regardless.

3) Hypocrisy — If we know a brother or sister who actively professes the faith yet we witness their continual sinning openly, we cannot support such behavior. This is quite serious and can only lead to their destruction and therefore we must send as strong a signal as possible to hopefully awake them.

How long must we reach out before we dismiss? There’s no set answer to that. The Holy Spirit must guide each case. In my own walk, I have been told to quickly dismiss certain individuals, with others I have been told to strive longer with them. I would suppose it depends on the unrighteousness (lack of right doing) they are doing.

As far as the ones who are planting seeds of false doctrine, we are more clear. “If anyone desires to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God or whether I speak of Myself.(John 7:17)

If we are obedient to the Lord we shall have that “sixth sense” of what is true doctrine and what is false. Consequently those who we know to be spreading false teachings and doctrines, we must avoid, even to the point of not accepting them into our homes. computers, or wherever.

The willingness to obey the Lord and live a converted life, no longer cherishing sins, really does give us 20/20 vision in knowing truth from error.

In closing, should they ever come to us in repentance, we should be like the proverbial father in the parable who sees him afar and can’t wait to accept him again (Luke 15:11-32). Unity is what gives us  brethren in Christ a strong foothold against the evil ones. If we obey the word of God in regards to tough love when we know by the Holy Spirit it’s to only course to take,  we will do as He says and leave the results with God.

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