Tough Love

On 1 Corinthians 15, from a 1999 message “Living and Loving” by Doug Groins of Penisula Bible Church:

The theme of love in the body of Christ is like an arrow that shoots all the way through our passage. It starts in verse 14: “Let all that you do be done in love.” Verse 20: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” That’s the affection of love expressed among believers in the body. Verse 22: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.” There Paul is concerned about hypocrisy, about love that is not genuine in the body of Christ. Verse 24, where Paul himself brings his own pastoral greeting: “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” 

Now, if you’ve been studying through this very long letter, you know that most of it is in the form of rebuke and correction. Chapters 1-14 dealt mostly with bad behavior among believers. Chapter 15, the great resurrection chapter, dealt with bad theology. Even chapter 13, the beautiful love chapter, was written because Paul had to deal with lovelessness and insensitivity in that body of believers. Yet this letter comes out of deep, loving concern for and commitment to these people. It’s like God’s love for us. The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “…Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (12:6). So this is very loving discipline from the apostle. Remember how Paul began his letter. Even though he had hard things to say, in the opening paragraph he wrote, “I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you….” (1 Corinthians 1:4-6). We see from Paul that love may have to be tough-minded at times, but it’s always hopeful, confident, optimistic, and very grateful.