5. Walk in Love. Another of the consequences of violating your mate’s trust is the resulting fear that this behavior will be repeated in the future. To eliminate this fear you must both choose to walk in love.
Why? Re-establishing your relationship in love has the profound effect of driving all fear from your heart. The apostle John declares the power of love: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
Therefore, it is essential that you ask God to fill you with His love and help you to demonstrate this love to your mate in real and practical ways. Demonstrating sincere love toward your spouse assures your partner that you have made real changes. Only love removes the underlying fear that he or she will be betrayed again.
In addition, when the offended spouse chooses to love it assures the offending spouse that he or she has truly been forgiven.
Consider these practical demonstrations of love:
(a) Verbalize and demonstrate sincere forgiveness for all past and present infractions. God demonstrated His love toward you by His forgiveness. Jesus declared His heart and desire when He prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
(b) Verbally confirm your love for each other regularly. Paul taught the Corinthian church that this was their responsibility toward the one who had violated their trust. He commanded: “This punishment which was inflicted … is sufficient … you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him” (2 Cor. 2:6-8).
(c) Sacrificially give in those areas where you’ve struggled and been at odds with each other. Sacrificing for your spouse demonstrates that you truly want a different relationship with your mate. God demonstrated His love “toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Therefore, forgive, confirm your love, and begin to sacrificially serve one another again.
6. Time. Common sense tells us that if time is required to heal a physical wound, it will also take time to heal an injured heart. Jesus said that He came to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18).
This declaration should assure you that this is exactly what He wants to do in your life. But, it takes time. Don’t be unrealistic and expect things to change overnight. Scripture points out that we are all slow at heart to believe anything (Luke 24:25).
Most likely both partners will be slow to believe that things can really change in their marriage. But, you both must take a step of faith and work to save the relationship. Remember, Jesus is in the business of changing lives and reconciling the estranged. He does it every day of the week with those whose hearts are willing to obey.
Will you be patient and give God time to work? The need for sufficient time is clearly implied in the word patience. Obviously there would be no need for patience if problems were all rectified instantly. Let patience have its perfect work in you and your marriage (James 1:4).
In addition, as time passes you will have the opportunity to observe your mate. You will see if he or she is merely making hopeful professions or if the changes are real. Again, true repentance is always demonstrated by action that will either confirm your faith or reveal that it’s misplaced.
Scripture explains that it was “in the process of time” that the fruit of Cain’s heart was revealed by his actions (Gen. 4:3). You always know the tree by the fruit that is produced in the process of time (Matt. 7:20). Don’t forget this valuable truth!
7. Beware of Self-righteousness. Finally, let me give a word of warning to the offended spouse: beware of being self-righteous. If this attitude takes root in your heart it will short-circuit all your attempts to re-establish your relationship.
In addition, if you look down on your mate with a self-righteous and condemning attitude you will not only hinder your attempt to restore your relationship but you will also frustrate your own fellowship with God. Remember the self-righteous Pharisee who prayed and thanked the Lord that he wasn’t like other men? Note that the passage reveals that this man wasn’t praying to God, but was only talking with “himself” (Luke 18:11). Why? Because God always resists the proud and the self-righteous.
None of us has any reason to be lifted up or arrogant about anything that we have done or have not done. We are saved by grace and we are kept by grace. Don’t ever forget that we are all sinners. We are very much like each other. There is no temptation that is not common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). Paul warned all believers: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
If you think that you could never sin or fail in the same manner as your spouse, you are only deceiving yourself.
The best way to keep your attitude correct is to regularly examine yourself and remove from your heart this plank of self-righteousness (Matt. 7:5).
COVENANT KEEPERS © 2013
Discover Pastor Steve Carr’s advice from this encouraging series, Re-establishing Trust in Your Relationship – Part II