Christian Devotionals

When Your Partner Doesn't Share Your Faith(1)
"'...if a woman has a husband who is not a believer...'" 1 Corinthians 7:13 NIV

Living with an unbelieving mate is both a challenge and an opportunity. It's a challenge because believers and unbelievers see life differently. And it's an opportunity because God can use you to close the gap and win them to Christ. But for that to take place you must make two commitments. First, commit yourself to the goal of their salvation; second, commit yourself to your own growth through loving them and living with them. Once you've committed, you're ready for this practical and helpful counsel.

Remember the unbeliever's spiritual limitations. 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Only when they're 'in Christ' can they be a 'new creation'. Only then will 'the old' go! The old will dominate until they receive the new. 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' (John 3:6 NKJV)

Remember, the unbeliever suffers from spiritual birth defects they can't overcome until the new birth corrects them. '...the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do the flesh cannot please God.' (Romans 8:7-8 NAS) If they don't love God's Word, prayer and church like you do, it's because they're controlled by the flesh and are 'not even able' to. So have realistic expectations. Remember what you were like BC (Before Christ)? Be patient, loving and kind while God does His work in them.

When Your Partner Doesn't Share Your Faith(2)
"'...if a woman has a husband who is not a believer...'" 1 Corinthians 7:13 NIV

Don't be surprised when you get opposition. 'I think my husband liked me better before I became a Christian and started to go to church,' a woman complained to her pastor. The pastor reminded her that spiritual warfare is part of the Christian life, and because believers and unbelievers are on opposite sides, she shouldn't be shocked. Jesus laid down the dividing line: 'He who is not with Me is against Me...' (Matthew 12:30 NKJV) That's strong language! Neutrality isn't an option in this conflict. We are either on one side or the other. Jesus said, 'If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you...If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you...all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.' (John 15:19-21 NKJV) Don't take opposition personally. It's not about you, it's about His name. He, not you, is the target, and He can handle the flack!

You say, 'What should I do when I am criticized and misunderstood?' Try to stay detached from personal offence so that you can continue to love the person and be in a position to win them to Jesus. 'Bless those who persecute you...Repay no one evil for peaceably with all not avenge yourselves...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.' (Romans 12:14-21 NKJV) Try it-it's Christ's winning strategy!

When Your Partner Doesn't Share Your Faith(3)
"'...if a woman has a husband who is not a believer...'" 1 Corinthians 7:13 NIV

Accept your mate as he is. Take the conditions off your love-as God did for you. 'God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us...when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son...' (Romans 5:8-10 NIV) Love him with no requirements. That means, first, to accept him without criticism. 'Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.' (Matthew 7:1-2 NLT) Criticism always creates a stand-off on spiritual issues. Instead, find qualities to compliment and you'll generate openness. Second, accept him without comparisons. 'I wish you were more like Tom. He and Lucie go to church together every Sunday and they have a great marriage.' You're comparing apples with oranges! He'll hear you say he's not as good a husband as Tom, and he'll grow to despise Tom, the church, and anything else you compare him to. Accept him as he is. Third, accept him without change. People resent demands for change, but often do change once they feel truly accepted as they are. Change is the Holy Spirit's job, not yours. '...He will convict the world of guilt...sin and righteousness...' (John 16:8 NIV) First, let God's Spirit change you. Your marriage partner's behaviors are usually responses to us. When you change, your partner is responding to a different you, and will be more likely to change voluntarily. Follow God's model: first, He accepts; next, He reconciles; last, He changes people! ' just the right time...Christ died for the ungodly.' (Romans 5:6 NIV) It worked on you!

When Your Partner Doesn't Share Your Faith(4)
"'...if a woman has a husband who is not a believer...'" 1 Corinthians 7:13 NIV

A wise wife listens to God. When you know things your partner doesn't about God and His Word, it's hard to resist 'demonstrating your knowledge'. But it's an art God wants you to master. Here are two Bible principles that will help you to lead, not push, your husband closer to God. First, the principle of submission. 'Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.' (1 Peter 3:1 NIV) Submission to the needs of others is hard on our pride, especially when we know we're Scripturally right. The need to be 'right', however, will sabotage your hopes for your mate's salvation. The words, 'in the same way', refer to 1 Peter 2:21-25 where Jesus submitted to injustice, to save us. To submit is Christ-like. It's also the best method of getting yourself out of God's way so God can work on your mate. Second, the principle of silence: '[That] they may be won over without words.' To protect your marriage and save your husband, God exempts you from the role of being His mouthpiece. However sincere, don't 'preach' at him. That includes placing Bibles, spiritual books and CDs where he can't miss them. If you do, he'll tune you out for sure. 'How else will he get the message?' you ask. ' the behaviour of their wives... a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.' (1 Peter 3:1-4 NIV) Try it God's way!

When Your Partner Doesn't Share Your Faith(5)
"'...If [a man] has a wife who is not a believer...'" 1 Corinthians 7:12 NIV

A wise husband listens to God: ' with your wives in an understanding her honour as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.' (1 Peter 3:7 NAS) In this verse, the original Greek word for 'understanding' implies seeking, inquiry and investigation, which are all action verbs. As a husband you must try to understand your wife. That means avoiding three things: being passive, presumptuous or pressuring. Nothing opens our hearts like feeling cherished and understood by those we value. It provides validation, which, for your wife, is more valuable than information. For a wife who doesn't share your faith, an understanding husband is God's greatest asset. So, don't overreact when problems arise. Stay calm and handle things graciously. Use your 'sound mind' (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV) to discern the needs and causes behind her behavior. Ask yourself, 'Does she resent church because I put it and my Christian friends before her?' Make it a priority to learn to meet her needs. 'Show her honour...' (1 Peter 3:7 NAS) If she feels taken for granted or neglected your words will fall on deaf ears. Love her, and she'll listen to you. Place her needs ahead of your own; regularly acknowledge her value to you; remember her feminine vulnerability and handle her sensitively. Follow God's instructions confidently, faithfully and patiently, ' that your prayers will not be hindered.' (1 Peter 3:7 NAS) Neglect them, and you are hindering your prayers. Simply do your part, pray in faith, and leave God's part to Him!

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