In our congregation, there are many people of faith that are married to or have family members that are not believers. Over the years, I have watched countless spouses and parents try to make bargains with the family member, bargain with God or try to do the work of the Holy Spirit in getting their loved one to convert.
Many years ago in a church far, far away I knew a woman that had an unbelieving husband and son. As the youth pastor at the church I was invited over one day for supper. I made myself friendly and engaged in small talk with each person. What struck me about the woman was the stressful, concerned look that seemed to be permanently on her face. It was as if her burden for their salvation was more apparent than her affection and love for who they actually were.
Everywhere I looked in the house, she had posted sticky notes with handwritten scripture verses on them to let her husband and son know that they could be saved. I am a believer, but I felt for the men in her life. Here was a woman that was mostly unhappy trying to win them to the joy of her salvation.
Now, I don’t want to be overly critical of her because I think I understand. She was trying her best to love with a broken heart. In her love for Jesus, it was natural for her to want her family to experience God. But the reality of their cold indifference mixed with her understanding of evangelism caused a crushing of her spirit.
A crushed spirit cannot fake a genuine smile. What do you do if your family member or spouse falls short of what you believe is God’s best for them? How can you love in a way that is genuine and at the same time give the responsibility for their salvation back to God?