When My Husband has a Sin Problem, part 3

Many of the suggestions we’ve already looked at in this study have had to do with attitude.  Not your husband’s attitude, but yours.  You can’t make your husband repent.  You can’t make him start doing the right thing.  But you can control every bit of your attitude.  Compassion, humility, and goodness are powerful traits.  Your constancy in those areas will have a better chance of penetrating your husband’s heart than any rant or “punishment.”  As we conclude this series of what to do when your husband has a sin problem, remember that the goal is to make sure you’re doing your part to make it easier for him to go to Heaven.

9.  Rebuke gently.

If you’re like most people, you don’t enjoy confrontation, especially when it involves a friend.  When you do have to resolve an issue, you probably go out of your way to be careful and gentle.  You put a lot of thought into it.  You don’t want there to be any misunderstandings or hurt feelings and will treat it as tenderly as possible.  Make sure you’re no less gentle with your own husband.  Put as much forethought into it.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).  Gentleness goes far in reaching any heart.

10.  Keep Your Convictions

Perhaps your husband has quit attending worship.  Keep going anyway no matter how inconvenient and even if you have to go alone for years.  If your husband has engaged in a particular sin for any length of time, resist the temptation to accept it.  Never give in and engage in it with your husband.  You will demonstrate true faithfulness by putting God’s will first no matter what.  In She Hath Done What She Could, Jane McWhorter writes, “Your husband may test your convictions, but he will respect you for them if you are sincere and consistent.”

11.  Know the Difference Between Shaming and Humiliating

When God’s people no longer blushed at their sin it was because they were no longer ashamed of it (Jer. 6:15).  Shame is good because it can lead to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10,11).  It can turn a tender heart.  Humiliation is different.  A wife who humiliates her husband is trying to embarrass him and attack his dignity.  Look up the various definitions of what it means to humiliate someone.  It’s not pretty or Christlike.

12.  Dissolve Your Anger

A certain amount of anger is natural and righteous indignation is good.  But be careful about feeding your anger by brooding or repeating your husband’s offense(s) over and over in your mind.  You will only lead yourself to the boiling point.  In her book, Loving Your Husband, Patsy Loden writes, “Anger robs you of reason.  Without reasoning ability, you are not responsive to seeking a solution.  Anger enslaves.  You cannot act in a loving way when you are angry.  Anger dictates how you act, and it is always in a negative way.”

How can you dissolve your anger?

  • Don’t focus on your rights (“That’s not fair. This isn’t what I deserve.”).
  • Don’t start keeping score.
  • Stay away from angry people–it’s contagious.
  • Pray for release from the feelings of anger.

13.  Focus on His Good Qualities

If your husband picks up a sinful habit, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad man.  Paul said the evil he didn’t want to do was what he kept on doing because of the sin in him (Rom. 7:15-20).  His struggle with his flesh was ongoing.  A husband with a sin problem is battling the flesh and failing.

To help your husband strengthen his godly traits, focus on them.  Point them out.  Open your eyes to the good that your husband does or tried to do.  Acknowledge the good in a non-patronizing way.  I love what Ruth Hazel said in The Challenge of Being a Wife.  “You will find that the more you focus on the good qualities of others the farther their weaknesses will recede.  Anyone can do better when he believes he can do better, and this assurance may be based on the faith and confidence someone else has in us.”

14.  Turn Him Over to God

God is the One in the heart-changing business.  You know you can safely leave your husband in God’s hands.  You don’t have to carry the burden all alone.  You can turn your husband over to the One who died for him.

You can’t force your husband to repent but you can choose to still love him.  Love can motivate you to make sure your attitude and your example make it easier for your husband to be convicted to give up the sinful habit.

Photo Credit: Traci Sproule

Do I Know You?

I’ve been thinking about the great Bible class we had Sunday morning taught by Will Hanstein.  The discussion centered around the warning Jesus gives about not causing others to stumble (Luke 17:1,2).  Mr. Hanstein pointed out that our actions and words can influence whether or not others go to Heaven.  He then said that Jesus tells us in the very next verse how to keep from causing others to stumble:  “Be on your guard!  If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).   Mr. Hanstein challenged us to consider how we’re doing with this difficult command.  It occurred to me that there’s one significant thing that would make this command easier for all of us, and that is having genuine relationships.  If we really know each other, rebuking and forgiving are powerful and effective.  If we don’t really know each other, we risk abusing the very safeguard Jesus put in place for His “little ones.”

If I don’t really know you, I won’t care enough to rebuke you.  Why should I?  It’s none of my business how you choose to live your life.  Right?  We don’t feel this way at all when one we dearly love is in trouble spiritually.  It takes courage to confront someone who’s entangled in sin.  But if we care about them, we’re more willing to do it, no matter how painful.

If I don’t really know you, I might misjudge you.  I might feel the need to admonish you for something because I assigned motives that weren’t really there.  Yet when we know and care about others, we will give them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst.

If I don’t really know you, a rebuke from me may appear self-righteous rather than loving, no matter how valid.  If we hardly ever talk to someone, naturally they will not welcome any sudden interest in their spiritual welfare.

If I do know you, I will humbly rebuke you in a timely manner.  I won’t wait until it’s too late.  (As Mr. Hanstein pointed out, a rebuke is needed when someone is caught up in sin and not doing anything about it, not when someone is aware of their sin and trying to change.)  When we know and care about others, we won’t put off talking to them, lest they ask, “Why come to me now, after all this time?”

If I do know you, I will be eager to forgive.  Like the father of the prodigal son, we rush to welcome back with open arms those we care about.  If we don’t really know someone, we may not be as diligent in reassuring them of our joy and love.

Genuine relationships spell the difference in how we handle Luke 17:3.  It will keep us from abusing the command (being too eager to rebuke because we see the worst in others), and it will help us carry out the command (being motivated by love to humbly rebuke and forgive those who need it).  There may be Christian brothers and sisters who sit on the other side of the auditorium that we don’t know very well.  Let’s build genuine relationships so we can give (and receive) what Jesus put in place as safeguards for our souls.

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to care enough to get to know and love my Christian family.

Image credit goes to Michael Hite
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