“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:16 NLT
A few weeks ago, I received a call from a woman who was having problems in her marriage. She had accepted Christ a few years after they had gotten married. Still, her husband remained resistant to a relationship with Jesus. Her heart was broken by where her husband was spiritually and the challenges it created in their marriage.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center , as many as one-in-five Christians married since 2010 are married to someone who isn’t a believer. Chances are good that you or someone you know is in a marriage where one person is a Christian, and the other is not.
Don’t lose heart if you’re a believer and your spouse isn’t. Despite what’s happened in the past, God can use you to lead your spouse to Him. Here are a few suggestions that can help:
1. Love your spouse wholeheartedly. The best way to share the good news is to be a good spouse. Discover your spouse’s love language and speak it often. Make them the number one human being in your life. Your spouse wants to feel like a person, not a project. Consistently tell them that you love them and what you love about them, and look for opportunities to express your love in meaningful ways to them.
2. Live your faith well. Your spouse won’t prioritize a relationship with Jesus if you don’t. Put your faith into practice. Serve others. Be loving even when people are unloving to you. Speak positively of others. Spend time with Jesus each day. Pastor Ray Johnston says, “Don’t share the good news without good deeds.” That’s what Jesus is talking about in today’s verse when He says, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
3. Learn about their beliefs and share yours. Check-in with your spouse periodically to see where they are in their spiritual life. Ask them where their beliefs about God, faith, and spiritual life are. Share how you became a Christian, talk to them about what you’re learning in your relationship with Jesus, and have them share their insights into important topics.
You may already know where your spouse stands on these issues. Still, God can use time and circumstances to soften your spouse’s heart and open their mind to reevaluating their once entrenched worldview.
Refrain from letting your spouse’s unbelief be the primary focus of your life and conversations. You don’t want them to feel like they’re letting you down. That will only push them away from Jesus and you. Instead, please keep the conversation alive for as long as they’re interested. Then, switch gears when they’re ready to discuss something else and focus on what you have in common over what you don’t.
4. Look for ways to connect them with other Christians. Seeing and hearing the same thing you’ve been talking to them about from other believers can help the message of the gospel penetrate your spouse’s heart. Invite your spouse to church, but don’t pressure them to come. Instead, go on double dates with couples who are Christians. Watch the kids so they can have time with other believers of the same gender. Helping your spouse connect with Christians who are growing in their relationship with Jesus can help your spouse grow in theirs.
5. Lift your spouse in prayer daily. James 5:16 says, “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Your prayers can make a big difference. Ask God to soften your spouse’s heart to the good news. Pray for wisdom on how to share your faith and be a great spouse. Request godly people to befriend your spouse at work and in the community. Invite others to come alongside you in praying for your spouse to make Jesus the Savior and Lord of their life.
It can be discouraging to be on such different pages with your spouse about your relationship with your heavenly Father. Some days you may be tempted to give up on witnessing to them or even quit your marriage altogether.
When those feelings come up, remember that God didn’t give up on you, He hasn’t given up on your spouse or marriage, and you shouldn’t either. So keep doing what you know and trust God to work behind the scenes.
Following these steps won’t guarantee that your spouse will give their life to Christ, but they will allow you to do all you can to build a bridge between the Lord and the person you love most in the world.
1. How long have you been hoping your spouse will give their life to Jesus? What challenges have you faced in being married to someone who isn’t a believer?
2. Of the five steps we discussed, which one do you feel you need to work on the most? What steps will you take to grow in that area this week?