August 25, 2008
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18 (NIV)
“Your ex-husband stayed in your guest bedroom while visiting for your son’s graduation?” my friend asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“That is the weirdest, most amazing thing I have ever heard,” she responded.
It’s true. My ex-husband has stayed in my husband and mine’s home a couple times for special occasions. I admit it felt odd. However, it was worth my uncomfortable feelings, because it allowed my children to observe a living example of forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness through the grace of God.
In addition, my husband’s ex-wife has celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with our family. These few hours of “making peace” enabled me to create a deeper relationship with my stepdaughter. In my opinion, the results were well worth the anxiety I experienced prior to the “ex’s” arrival.
Although God does not command us to invite ex-spouses into our homes, He does expect us to forgive, and attempt to be at peace with them as far as it depends on us. Out of all human relationships, perhaps “the ex-factor” holds the most potential to create conflict and bitterness. Every “ex-factor” contains its own problems, dilemmas, and special circumstances. As with any problem, we should always seek God for wisdom.
So, as we proceed with the attitude of our key verse, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” let’s seek God’s advice and wisdom. He will direct our steps in any difficult relationship. Let’s put into practice Proverbs 2:9-11:
“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.” (NLT)
Sometimes it is neither safe nor healthy to invite ex's back into our lives. But we can still choose to find peace in our hearts by seeing them as God sees them. They may be broken, but they are a person God made and still loves. So, whether we feel led to be at peace with them from a distance or invite them up close again, through God's love in us, all things are possible. The wisdom of God, with the direction of the Holy Spirit, will help us discern the right course of action in every relationship—even with the ex-factor.
Dear Lord, grant me the desire and ability to pursue peace in every difficult relationship. Give me wisdom in complex relational interactions. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness in my own life. Allow me to mirror Your love and forgiveness love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When Your Marriage Dies: Answers to Questions about Separation and Divorce by Laura Petherbridge
Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman
Consider the various relationships in your life. Make a list of people you feel animosity toward. Ask for the desire and ability to forgive anyone you harbor anger or bitterness against. Seek God’s direction with His words, “as far as it depends on you,” that you might live at peace within these relationships.
How do I reflect God’s love in difficult relationships?
Are my children able to see my attempts at peace-making?
Have I sought God’s wisdom in dealing with thorny people who intersect with my family?
Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” (NLT)
Hebrews 12:14-15, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (NIV)
Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)
© Susanne Scheppmann 2008. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105