Almost every divorced Christian I know cannot imagine reconciling with their former spouse. So much hurt, so many bitter words and fights. “Clare, why would I take that risk and jump back into that snake pit again?”
Not only are there those risks, but in most cases one or both of the spouses have remarried. “So, Clare even if I wanted to reconcile with my ex it is impossible.”
Surprisingly, it isn’t. At least, not the kind of reconciliation I’m encouraging.
So what follows is the advice I gave to a divorced man recently that you may want to pass on to a divorced friend, or anyone at odds with another believer.
Webster defines reconcile this way; “to cause people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.
The Bible says this, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:27,28
Reconciling with your “ex”
While you may be legally divorced from your former spouse, if he/she is a believer they are still your spiritual brother and sister. And it is the will of God that we live reconciled to one another and in peace.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” -2Corinthians 13:11
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” -Galatians 5:22
Peace is not only one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but we’re to use all of our spiritual gifts to bring about peace.
Continuing my conversation with this man, “You’re not only expected to make an effort to live at peace with your ‘ex,’ it’s to your advantage to do so;” Why?
First, it’s a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit to your children.
If you have children, for the rest of your life, you and your ex will have to negotiate holidays, weddings, birthdays, graduation and special events, even those of your grandchildren. What a wonderful testimony to them of how Christians ought to live, even with people who disagree, if both you and your ex could attend and be kind and courteous to one another, so no innocent parties are made to feel uncomfortable.
Second, you will have peace of mind and your prayers will not be hindered. This may be hard to hear; but unless you’ve had a biblical divorce, biblically speaking, your ex is still your spouse, in God’s eyes. And therefore when you are bitter or angry with your spouse it’s tougher to pray with a free conscience. (1 Peter 3:7)
Third, Jesus commands us to attempt to make peace even if you are the innocent party!
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,” -Matthew 5:23. Jesus isn’t saying if you have something against them. He’s talking about them having hard feelings about you. Perhaps your spouse still harbors hard feelings toward you. You have an obligation to try to make peace.
To harbor hateful thoughts is a sin.
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” -Matthew 5:22
My final thought is this: you have no control over whether your ex will accept your offer of reconciliation and peace. But you do have the responsibility as a believer to make a sincere effort.
Making the first moves
- Begin by praying for a receptive spirit in your former spouse, or another person whom you are at odds.
- Consider calling you ex and offering to meet with a godly friend you both trust, who is willing to help you navigate this reconciliation. (If you or your ex have remarried, it would be very unwise to meet without a third person present.)
- Attempt to move beyond open hostility and discuss continuing tensions and how to eliminate or minimize them.
- If you come to a mutual understanding about how you will handle certain issues, put it in writing. It will give both of you something to refer to in the future.
- Covenant to pray for one another. I’ve yet to meet two “enemies” who committed to pray faithfully for “the best” for the other person, who remained enemies.
If you’ve sent this blog to someone, ask to meet with them. Most people wounded by divorce are hesitant to take these steps without a faithful, praying friend to encourage them to do so. Be that kind of friend.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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