“His words stung. My husband wanted nothing to do with the church. To him, I was wasting my time and money. At one point he pointed out that giving in the church is equal to throwing our hard-earned money into the trash.” The young lady in sobs explained during the weekly intercession meeting. Sue was going through a tough time at home. What do we do when those we have loved sincerely chose not to walk the path of faith? Parents have been frustrated by their children who want nothing to do with the church. Spouses have made it hard for their mates to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. During the meeting, the lady was expecting and hoping for a sympathetic ear.
Instead, one of the older women challenged her to reconsider the way she treated her husband. To paraphrase her words, she said to Sue, “Your resentment toward your husband is sinful. And treating him with disrespect in front of the children will never draw him to Christ. In fact, it will push him away. And unfortunately, this might result in stirring rebellion among your kids as well. “This was a hard pill to swallow. The first thing to do when a loved one backslides is to remember that love is not forceful. We can not wish them saved, and then overnight, there is a tremendous shift of priority in their lives. As hard as it may seem, love is unconditional, and we must keep on loving.
Let us now look at some of the practical things to remember during this period of trials.
- Do Not Be Anxious.
Do not be consumed with worry over your children’s exposure to your partners’ unbelief or vice versa. Remember that they will be exposed to various religions and lifestyles during their lifetime, and then they will have to make up their mind by themselves. Let them see the firmness and fruits of your own faith. It is during this storm that you should love like Christ.
All believers, particularly those in Corinth’s storm-tossed church, were urged by Paul to love one another. In the face of hardship, corruption, and sin, Paul encouraged them to “be on their guard; hold fast to the faith; be bold; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). He went on to say, “Do everything with love” (v. 14).
- Respect in Words And Actions
Christians are fond of putting up “members-only” communities of those with whom they agree with. According to research done by Presbyterian USA, over 80% of unbelievers do not have any Christian as a friend. It is common to find that very few members can count a handful of friends who are not fellow believers in a church. Unfortunately, these church ‘ghettos’ side effect is that believers are predisposed to look down on those who do not confess to Christianity.
When you withhold respect, your spouse will feel unloved, which as a result, will hurt your Christian testimony to your spouse and your children. Young ones can see through hypocrisy in the lifestyle of their parents. Even when we feel that our spouses are not deserving of our respect, the love of God constrains and compels us to every extreme to demonstrate the love of God to them (2 Corinthians 5:14). We must love how He loves.
- Submission and Honor.
The Bible commands children to honor their parents and couples to love and respect each other, whether believers or not. In both the Trinity’s three-in-one bond and a husband and wife’s one-flesh union, we find diversity within unity. In the sense that all three are God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal. At the same time, their unity has a particular hierarchy. For example, Jesus declared Himself to be equal to God (John 5:18) before adding, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
You must be careful, especially in front of your spouse, to make it a point to tell the kids what you admire about their dad/mum. Celebrate their hard work and their commitment to bring up a wholesome family. Rejoice with them and be ready to honor them every time they walk through the door. Laugh at their jokes and make them realize that they are still a priority in your life even though they aren’t believers.
If your companion exhibits an interest or inquires, be yourself. Please don’t jump in! In the comments area, share your own difficulties, victories, anxieties, hopes, and faith. Don’t be jealous if God speaks into your spouse’s life through someone else; be grateful.
- Do not focus on “Fixing.”
Nobody has baptized you with the responsibility of fixing your loved one. The more you focus on improving them, you will be distracted, and your spouse will be a project for you to work on instead of being your spouse. Would you please keep your eyes on Jesus, the one who can perfect every one of us (Hebrews 12:2)?
The job of convicting and transforming still belongs to God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Refuse to be a nagging partner, always looking for an argument so that you can raise the issue of their sinfulness. This means no belittling, no flaunting your spirituality, no arrogance, or using the scripture as a weapon. Always put yourself in the shoes of your loved one. Using the truth arrogantly will not win your loved one to Christ.
Do not try to manipulate your partner. Seriously, please do not do it! It usually results in the opposite of what your manipulation intended to do. If you constantly are being manipulative, your kids will grow up knowing that is how spouses get what they want. As a result, this will mess up their future relationships. If they have already observed the behavior of manipulation, you will do well to go to them and ask for forgiveness.
- Your Best Sermon Is Your Life.
Suppose you are living with you; would you want to experience the Christianity that you preach? If you were an unbeliever, would you join yourself in being a Christian? We are reminded of Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1 “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. “
We’re all messed up and in dire need of Jesus’ saving grace. However, depending on how you demonstrate that transformation in your everyday words, deeds, and the way you love, you can either be an inviting encouragement or a stinky hindrance on your spouse’s path to God’s kingdom. Let your light so shine before men that they would look at you and glorify your Father in heaven.
- Keep Living And Feeding
Life is a marathon and not a sprint. This is so true, especially when a loved one is not a believer. Brethren, you must be intentional in living your life. Practice your hobbies, have fun, and keep your soul filled with the word of God. Do not neglect your prayer life because of the circumstances of your loved one. Jesus regularly went away to be with himself while he was here on earth. In the same way, find ways to remain connected to the body of believers around you.
This does not mean that you have lost in your spouse’s salvation but that you trust God with the situation. Instead, it is an affirmation that it’s only through God’s grace that He has revealed to us the way of salvation. Psalm 16:8: “I have set the Lord continually before me “is an excellent summary of how to live our life a step at a time as we follow the Lord.
- Pray Always
Many parents are afraid that their children will turn out like the children of priest Eli and King David. And this is the same for spouses too. The one weapon in our arsenal that is still effective against the wiles of the enemy is prayer. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16). Ask the Lord to give them a new heart, remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
One pastor who was having an altercation with his son tried everything, and it failed. Then he decided to pray for the boy. He prayed that God would bring struggle and disappointment in the son’s life to draw him back to the Lord. I would probably recommend that you prayerfully pray with Isaiah 30:21 in mind “Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Although it’s difficult to pinpoint specific responses to prayer for the son, he noticed a significant shift in his attitude toward spiritual matters throughout the years.
Prayer is a powerful tool. How long does it usually take? God is the only one who knows for sure. The intricacies of the conclusion are known only to Him. Don’t believe the lie that prayer won’t assist if you don’t see your spouse going to Christ. There are far too many examples to assume otherwise, and God’s word supports this assertion.