Imagine a mother hovering over her son's scraped knee with cotton dripping with rubbing alcohol and saying this - I know it's going to hurt, but I am doing this because I love you.

I remember repeating those words to my child, and more recently my cat when it had a boo-boo. I knew cleansing the wound would hurt, but it was the right thing to do. Not treating it would lead to worse consequences.

Sometimes we hurt the ones we love on purpose because we know it is the best thing for them. We tell them what they don't want to hear. We do something that seems initially to be cruel, but is in their best interest. We ask the Holy Spirit for discernment to use the right words and to speak with compassion, without watering down the hard truth. Some folks call this tough love.

It takes love to watch your child wobble on a two-wheeler for the first time, knowing they will probably fall and scrape their shins. It takes love to watch your teen make a poor decision, knowing that it will be a lesson well learned. It takes love to place your elderly parent in a care center designed specifically to deal with their dementia, knowing they won't like the idea of leaving their home.

Love is not just an emotion it is a verb. Love happens when we put the best interest of others ahead of the quick fix, or easy road, or painless solution. Love involves courage and self-discipline. We put another's needs before our own desire to be loved and accepted.

Love takes the chance that what we do or say, or don't do or say, may make the object of our love angry with us. But if our motive is to honor our Father, to do his will, God will guide us through it. Jesus knew that kind of love, which is why he chose to go to the cross even after so many turned their backs on him. He still does so today.

Dear Lord, teach me to love with power and self-discipline. Give me your reassurance that if I ask, you will guide me in how to love the way you love me. Let me show that love to others in my life, even when it means taking the hard road or causing them pain for their own good. Amen.

Throughout This Day: Is there someone you know who needs your tough love? Pray and ask God to give you the courage to act, the strength to back away, or the words needed to truly love them. If you're in a situation and you're not sure what to do, talk to an online mentor. It's free and private.

Tags: Daily Devotional 1 Timothy 4 Love
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