Are tears and anguish a sign of love? Popular opinion would say “most definitely not,” but the Bible seems to disagree.
In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul reproached a lot of sin and gave much instruction. In places, he could’ve been accused of being harsh. Here’s what he says about it:
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4
Paul claims these letters have been for the Corinthians’ good: to show his love. He
brought their sin to light and instructed them because he loved them, not because he wanted to shame or dishearten them.
For me, this means that love isn’t always easy. It’s not always laughing with friends and having lighthearted conversation.
True, Godly love cuts deep into real life and real sin. It gets a front-seat view of pain and brokenness, because the front seat is where you end up when you grow close to someone. It sees all, and doesn’t turn its head. It digs deeper, challenges. It says things that aren’t easy, but are necessary. It motivates and holds accountable, and tearfully pleads with God for the good of its friend.
I’ll admit, I need to work on loving others in this way: being honest about pain and sin, seeing all without turning away, and even confronting. I myself need to drop the casual, sunny view of love, and start loving people in the way that they actually need: caring so much that I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone.
I should also be willing to be loved in this way, without taking offense. When someone confronts me about an issue, I should be open to what they say, and humbly, prayerfully consider it. If I don’t, I may miss out on good advice: even a word from God!
Directly following verse 4, Paul talks about forgiveness, restoration, and reassurance.
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
-2 Corinthians 2:5-11
I think this ties in with authentic love quite well. When I’m in a relationship or friendship this up-close and personal, when I see clearly someone’s deepest faults and burdens, the main thing I need to give is Jesus’ grace and forgiveness. If I’m unable to truly, fully forgive, this Godly love can’t exist. Love and concern for one another doesn’t survive in a hurt, bitter heart. It just can’t.
On top of that, unforgiveness means that satan wins, outwits me. Even though unforgiveness feels natural and totally permissible at times, even logical, it’s just one more of satan’s schemes to cause division, discontentment, pain, and ineffectiveness for God’s kingdom. I will not be held back by it, and I pray that you won’t either. Let’s make it our goal to show this kind of honest and forgiving love to the people in our lives.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!