It’s been said that love hurts. Nowadays, that saying is more likely to be employed as a silly cliche rather than a serious nugget of wisdom. It is perfect for any dad trying to tell his heartbroken teenager that he understands in a lighthearted way. But there’s some deeper truth here. I’m not just talking about the fact that selfless love makes you vulnerable to pain if it isn’t reciprocated. I’m actually talking about quite the opposite.
Loving People Can Mean Hurting Them
The reality is, sometimes loving people means hurting them. Let me explain.
Loving someone means giving them what they need. This should be an obvious component of love. If your friend is having car trouble, you give them a lift. If they need a confidant to talk to, you lend them your ear. Love meets needs.
So, by way of more example, when a wife needs a break from the kids, the husband takes over. Depending on how she’s wired, it may be best received in the form of a surprise gift certificate to a day spa. Or maybe it’s a babysitter and a date night together. Or maybe it’s the house to herself while the kids spend the day out with dad. A thoughtful person studies hard to determine not just what someone needs, but how he or she would best receive it.
Yet, there are times when all the careful study in the world falls short. Suppose the wife in our example has, to the detriment of her marriage, an unhealthy devotion to her children. Whether from unfounded fear or misplaced trust, she doesn’t want to leave her kids for a second. It’s now obvious for multiple reasons that she needs a break from them, but the husband knows that, based on the way she feels, no amount of strategic timing, tender wording, or creative planning will change her initial reaction to such a notion.
This leaves him with two options. One, still give her what she needs and be ready to endure a potentially forceful pushback. Or two, cater to her unhealthy desires and fail to address the problem.
I hope it’s clear which option love would choose.
As you continue building relationships with people, believers and unbelievers alike, consider how you can best love them. Ask yourself if you’re really being selfless. Are you willing to endure the discomfort of not approving of a friend’s sin? Are you willing to be despised for calling a friend out? Tougher still, are you willing to potentially lose that friend for giving them what they really need? This may sound like the worst-case-scenario, but nothing could be worse than opposing God – something truly loving friends, insofar as they are able, would never allow.