Friday, December 18, 2015
What Do I Do Now?
I've received so many questions from people asking what they should do now. The questions range from "I've forgiven him/her, now what?" to "We are staying together, but we just don't know how to put this behind us and move forward." to "How do I love him/her again?" and everything in between.
First of all, God bless you for choosing forgiveness. This is God's plan and desire for you. God is pro-restoration. We see that message played out all through history - from the first moment of disobedience and broken relationship between God and man in the Garden of Eden, to the Israelites continually turning their backs on God and then experiencing restoration, to the overall picture of a fallen humanity being offered grace and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. God prefers restoration over broken relationships and divorce. In fact, God "hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16). He also only allowed divorce in situations of infidelity because of the hardness of our hearts (Matthew 19:8, Mark 10:5).
Those of you who feel completely numb, broken, and hurt beyond anything you've ever imagined know firsthand why it's easy for a heart to become hardened in situations of infidelity.
Let's flip it around for a moment and take the spotlight off of the one who caused the pain in your relationship. Take a moment to hold up a mirror and ponder your own life and choices for a moment. You might think, How dare you do this to me?!? I was the one who was cheated on!!! Hold on a moment, don't get riled up yet. I just want to put things in perspective. Yes you've been hurt. Yes it never should have happened. Yes it's inexcusable. But, let's consider who Jesus died for.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6b)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
You see, even though you might not have ever done something as painful as cheating or betraying your spouse, you still have fallen short of God's glory. Romans 5:6 calls us "ungodly" before our relationship with Him was ever restored. Even before you knew Him, when you were guilty of having a sinful nature, He chose to sacrifice His only son, Jesus, so that your relationship could be restored with Him. If you follow Jesus and profess Him as your Lord and Savior, you have been forgiven. You have been accepted into an eternal royal family, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17).
Does that help a little bit? Does it help knowing that we all are guilty and rightly headed for God's judgment without His forgiveness? I hope it puts things into perspective a little bit.
There's also the danger that Jesus warned of in Matthew 6:15, Mark 11:26, and Matthew 18:35, that God will not forgive those who cannot forgive. What a problem that creates - someone accepts the free gift of salvation/grace/forgiveness from a Holy God, but then in-turn refuses to offer forgiveness to others because they are too hurt, hardened, or stubborn to do so. Does that sound harsh? I don't think so when considering the grace that's been extended to all of humanity. Think about this - Jesus even loves and died for ISIS, jihadists, terrorists, Hitler, cheaters, liars, murderers, pedophiles, child rapists, and every other hideous type of person you can imagine. I'm not saying all of those people/types accept His offer of forgiveness, but nevertheless He died for them to have the opportunity to be forgiven. He is willing to restore anyone into a loving relationship with Him, if only they will repent and seek His forgiveness.
There is also a pride and entitlement factor in refusing to forgive someone else. It's the mindset of "I deserve and I am worthy of God's grace because I'm not that bad. I can't fully forgive and move forward because this person doesn't deserve it. They've done something too wrong and painful to me." James 4:6 says, "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'" It takes great humility to truly forgive and love a person who has done a great wrong to you. But that is precisely what God wants you to do.
Keeping that in mind, can you look into the eyes of the one who betrayed you and truly say, "I love you. It hurts, but I truly love you."
So, in practicality, take this moment and say to your spouse, "We will move forward. It hurts. It's difficult. But we will move forward."
Find support in your local church. Make sure you're in a solid-Biblically based, uncompromising church that believes Jesus is indeed exactly who He claimed to be (the only way to God). "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
If your spouse needs help, find a Celebrate Recovery program in your area. CR is a Christ-Centered recovery program for any and all addictions. Here is their website: http://www.celebraterecovery.com/