Summary: Part 2 of 2 on dealing with divorce. Part 2 deals with the divorced persons attitude toward their circumstances, their ex, the church, etc.
DEALING WITH DIVORCE - Part 2
According to the Census Bureau, on an average, over 2 million couples per year in America get divorced. It is happening so frequently that most every state now have established no-fault divorce laws in order to expedite the system. It is my understanding that California now even has a mail-order divorce available in some circumstances. Wayne Smith tells of an add he saw in a California newspaper one Thanksgiving that read: "Divorce: Only $25- come in and unload that turkey!" And while we may smile at that, isn’t it a sad commentary on our culture today, when getting a divorce is less expensive to procure than getting married?
Last week we considered 3 attitudes that the Church needs to have toward the divorced. (1) First, we are to hold high the God’s ideal of marriage that we find in the Bible. The ideal is 1 man for 1 woman for 1 lifetime. Now, that’s not our standard, that’s God’s and if the church doesn’t hold up the ideal who will? The Bible says, ""In a war, if the trumpet does not give a clear sound, who will prepare for battle?"(NCV) We saw three specific scenario’s that the Bible addressed that permitted divorce but we hurried on to say that even though we will hold up God’s ideal we must secondly (2) admit and acknowledge that there are some very complex situations that the Bible does not cover. What are you going to tell the spouse whose mate is abusive, or whose mate threatens the life of the children, or who had a spouse enter the marriage under false pretenses? Certainly divorce must be the last resort but there are some terribly complex situations, some covered in Scripture, some not. Then thirdly (3) we must practice acceptance and forgiveness for those that are divorced. Some people have just been victimized by a self-centered mate and they need to be accepted. Others have initiated the divorce, they’ve been the offending partner. But they have repented and received forgiveness from God and so we need to accept them and forgive them and reinstate them to full membership and participation in the Church.
Well, in part 2,these last 7suggestions are for the divorced. We want to deal with your attitude toward your circumstances, your ex, yourself and the Church. Some of you today, wrestle all the time with guilt, bitterness and insecurity and you really need some help to get through that. Now, I know not everyone here has been divorced. But I truly believe you can benefit from this discussion, because sooner or later someone close to you will experience it and you need to be able to minister to them. So, take out your insert and let’s look at point # 4 which is:
IV. RECONCILE IF POSSIBLE:
The key thought here is: Don’t give up too quickly. In vs:9, Paul wrote: "...hate what is evil; and hold on to what is good." And the word used to give us the phrase “hold on to” means "to bond yourself to something” i.e. “Superglue yourself to the good." The prophet Hosea’s wife ran off and became a prostitute and yet God tells him in Hosea 3:1- "Love your wife again, even though she is loved by others and has committed adultery. Love her as I, the LORD, love the Israelites, even though they have turned to other gods..."(GW) Now, granted that would be a pretty tough order to fill but basically God told Hosea not to give up. And there are those who have made it... even those who’s mates have been unfaithful or who have divorced and still have been able to reconcile. They will tell you that at times they thought it was hopeless, but will can testify that Jesus Christ can heal. You can hang on and with God’s strength and love come through that hurt and have a triumphant marriage again.
Now, I’m not unrealistic.. sometimes reconciliation is not possible. You might do all you can but because of their continued sin or refusal to repent it’s just not right to get back together. I agree with the interpretation of Duet. 24:1-4, that says that if a woman remarries it is not right for the first husband to try to remarry his ex-mate because they have already remarried. So, there are some reasons that reconciliation is not possible but don’t take the easy-way out! You make sure you have exhausted all the possibilities! Charles Swindoll wrote: "There is something worse than living with your mate in disharmony and that is living with God in disobedience."
V. REPENT IF YOU ARE GUILTY:
The 5th suggestion is: repent if you are guilty. If you now realize that you have seriously contradicted God’s will and have sinned against your mate then repent. Humbly bow yourself before God and say, "Father, I have sinned against You. I beg Your forgiveness and I submit my will to Your authority and to Your discipline in my life." Refuse to fall to the temptation of rationalizing your behavior. Don’t continue to blame your circumstances or your mate. Be honest with yourself and say “This is my fault, I’ve been so wrong and I need forgiveness." Now, I’m not suggesting "cheap grace" here. Just going through the motions of repentance but not really changing. Repentance is not true repentance if there is no change. So, if reconciliation is possible sit down with your ex and see if you can begin to work on getting back together. However, if reconciliation is not possible, maybe they’re remarried or you are.. Or there is just too much hurt or offense.. you can still call or write your “ex” and those others who have been offended and say, "I was wrong, I am sorry, please forgive me." Psa. 34:18 says that we are never closer to God than when we have a repentant spirit. "The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; he rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins." (LB)