The Ex-Factor
By Susanne Scheppmann

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18 (NIV)

“Your ex-husband stayed in your guest bedroom while visiting for your son’s graduation?” my friend asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That is the weirdest, most amazing thing I have ever heard,” she responded.

It’s true. My ex-husband has stayed in my husband and mine’s home a couple times for special occasions. I admit it felt odd. However, it was worth my uncomfortable feelings, because it allowed my children to observe a living example of forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness through the grace of God.

In addition, my husband’s ex-wife has celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with our family. These few hours of “making peace” enabled me to create a deeper relationship with my stepdaughter. In my opinion, the results were well worth the anxiety I experienced prior to the “ex’s” arrival.

Although God does not command us to invite ex-spouses into our homes, He does expect us to forgive, and attempt to be at peace with them as far as it depends on us. Out of all human relationships, perhaps “the ex-factor” holds the most potential to create conflict and bitterness. Every “ex-factor” contains its own problems, dilemmas, and special circumstances. As with any problem, we should always seek God for wisdom.

So, as we proceed with the attitude of our key verse, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” let’s seek God’s advice and wisdom. He will direct our steps in any difficult relationship. Let’s put into practice Proverbs 2:9-11:

“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.” (NLT)

Sometimes it is neither safe nor healthy to invite ex's back into our lives. But we can still choose to find peace in our hearts by seeing them as God sees them. They may be broken, but they are a person God made and still loves. So, whether we feel led to be at peace with them from a distance or invite them up close again, through God's love in us, all things are possible. The wisdom of God, with the direction of the Holy Spirit, will help us discern the right course of action in every relationship—even with the ex-factor.

Dear Lord, grant me the desire and ability to pursue peace in every difficult relationship. Give me wisdom in complex relational interactions. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness in my own life. Allow me to mirror Your love and forgiveness love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Visit Susanne Scheppmann’s blog

When Your Marriage Dies: Answers to Questions about Separation and Divorce by Laura Petherbridge

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman

Application Steps:
Consider the various relationships in your life. Make a list of people you feel animosity toward. Ask for the desire and ability to forgive anyone you harbor anger or bitterness against. Seek God’s direction with His words, “as far as it depends on you,” that you might live at peace within these relationships.

Reflections:
How do I reflect God’s love in difficult relationships?

Are my children able to see my attempts at peace-making?

Have I sought God’s wisdom in dealing with thorny people who intersect with my family?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” (NLT)

Hebrews 12:14-15, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (NIV)

Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)

© Susanne Scheppmann 2008. All rights reserved.


5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Susan. This is a wonderful devotion. Gave me lots to think about. I thank the Lord for you and appreciate you sharing regarding your own experience in relationships. Thanks for letting God speak thru you in ways that I can understand.

Blogger Joanne said...

Thank you for this timely devotion. I too have an ex and have forgiven him. Today this scripture spoke to my heart about bitterness towards my mother in law.

Thank you...

-Joanne

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My relationship with my ex-husband is similar to yours. We put aside our differences for the sake of our sons and it has made such a difference in all our lives - especially for our sons. My husband has always had an understanding heart and he was the one to suggest we invite my ex to our home for various holidays and other events so the boys would not have to choose which parent to be with. At first it was awkward, but over the years the pain of the divorce has eased and we can now all be together and enjoy the event and each other's company. I thank God for my husband's understanding heart and for the ability of my ex and I to work for the good of our sons.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful devotion. There is one special relationship that I am praying for healing and restoration. These scriptures have been recorded in my journal often. Thank you so much for sharing so well what is in my heart. Thank you, Jesus, for hearing my prayer, for restoring this relationship in your perfect time and for healing my family.

Anonymous Kathie M. Thomas said...

We too, have had an ex stay with us (his ex-wife). She actually lived with us for 6 weeks whilst waiting to find a new home after following us to the state we'd shifted to many years ago. During that time she began coming to church and accepted Christ as her Saviour - that was such a special time for us but difficult too.

Over the years we've maintained contact and she's fallen away again but it's been so important for her daughters to see that we have kept our doors open in times of need.

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