by Will Graham
In your hometown right now, there’s a story playing out that will never be featured in a Valentine’s Day romantic comedy. It’s not a sweet or funny story of love and “happily ever after.” Instead, it’s one of emotion and concern on an eternal level, complete with pleading, prayer, hurt feelings, and damaged relationships.
I’m referring to marriages in which one spouse is a believer in Jesus Christ and the other is not.
Perhaps you don’t need to look down the street to find a relationship that fits this description. You may be living it. Your eternity is secure in your Savior, but your spouse continues to live life by his or her own set of rules, possibly even openly mocking you for your faith. Although you love your spouse, every day is a struggle between the two of you, and between you and God as you plead for your husband or your wife.
How do you share your faith in a way that will glorify Christ and lovingly draw your spouse to seek a saving relationship with Him?
#1. Don’t neglect your own faith development.
It may be easiest to make your faith a private matter and not live it out, neglecting your own growth and fellowship with other believers. It’s important, though, for you to continue to stay strong and mature as a believer. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
One of our employees came to Christ as an adult, and since her husband made it difficult for her to attend church, the local Christian radio station became her place of spiritual growth. She was built up and encouraged by the music and discussions she heard there. This fellowship may take on different forms depending upon the situation in which you find yourself, but – if you ever want to see your spouse find the same hope – don’t neglect your own faith.
#2. Don’t nag.
Consider how you would feel if your spouse constantly tried to push you toward doing something with which you weren’t comfortable, or made passive-aggressive comments that were potentially disrespectful (especially in front of your children). 1 Peter 3:1-2 says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
You’ll notice that Peter didn’t say, “Wives (or husbands), use the right words – and use them often – so they may be won.” This is one instance where the Bible says that you should let your respectful and pure actions do the talking, and God will use them to reach your spouse. To put it another way, someone once shared with me the saying, “You don’t want to be their Holy Spirit.” It’s not up to you to nag your spouse into heaven.
#3. Love your spouse.
Of course you love your spouse. I believe many of you are reading this article because of that love and concern. As you continue to show love to your spouse, revisit 1 Corinthians 13 and prayerfully and honestly take a self-inventory. (By the way, this goes for all of you, regardless of whether or not your spouses have a relationship with Jesus Christ!).
Is your love patient and kind, or is your love envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking and easily angered? Does your love keep record of wrongs and delight in evil, or does it rejoice in the truth? Does your love protect, trust, hope and persevere? You can’t love your spouse into heaven, but – regardless of your spouse’s hardened heart – you can show him or her the love of Jesus each and every day.
#4. Never stop praying.
And that brings us to perhaps the most important point. Pray! It’s human nature to feel like we need to do something – anything – to convince someone that he or she needs to accept Christ. We’ll try to say the right thing, share a book or article, flip to just the right radio or television channel at the right time. And, frankly, this makes sense. As a spouse, you feel the weight of eternity and don’t want your husband or wife to leave this world without knowing the Savior.
With that said, consider this: Maybe you just need to get out of the way! There’s not one thing that you can do without the power of the Holy Spirit. Be faithful and “never ceasing” in your prayers for your spouse. Although your spouse’s heart may be hardened to the gospel, nothing breaks down those walls like the power of prayer. The Bible tells us repeatedly that God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous, and that He is unwilling that any should perish. As you pray, lean on and rest in that promise.
As an evangelist, I’ve been forced to understand this simple truth as well. I can prepare thoroughly, I can preach and relate, telling anecdotes and truths. But, ultimately, my words are meaningless. God’s Word, on the other hand, will not return void, and His Holy Spirit is the One that is actually bringing men and women to Him.
My friends, I can’t honestly say that I know the world you’re living in, but I do have people who I hold dear who are not yet believers. I understand the pain of watching them walk aimlessly through life, searching for something but unwilling to humble themselves and accept Christ. I pray that these words help you in your own relationship, and I look forward to rejoicing with you when the day of your spouse’s salvation arrives!