I’ve urged, begged for delay, advised, prayed. But there comes a time when a situation must end. God said, “Today is the day of salvation.” It’s not a day in the future. It’s right now. 2 Corinthians 6:2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have listened to you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. God has eternity – we do not.
Man is not given unlimited time to do what he has to do. The Psalmist says, Seek ye the Lord while he may yet be found. Call upon Him while He is near and he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6 So there is a time when maybe He is not to be found? Not near? Not pardoning? When is that? Those dry, unavailable times will be experienced by us all. We need them to prove to us that God is real, that He is interested and involved with our lives. His absence makes that real.
We do not always have an option. Perhaps Christians do a disservice to people when we tell them of God’s mercy, so full and free, but never warn that the time may slip away, and never be available again for a very long time.
There is even a special time for cities, nations, and others. Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not!” For this luckless city rebellion to God’s call for mercy (not judgment necessarily) resulted in two thousand years of isolation and grief only to be restored May, 1948.
For myself, I am not allowed to take sides with either husband or wife. I must take sides with the Lord, though I may not know His position on the matter, and certainly I don’t know the history. Marriages are not made nor kept by saints, but by sinners. And even the best of believers has a limit. It is important that the reasons be known to them of course. Another man in his 70s just received divorce papers from his wife. The lawyer should be ashamed. The woman is on mega pills of all sorts and for her to sign anything “legal” is questionable. That is not a marriage breakdown but a physical one.
Every case is different. That alone should remind us not to judge too harshly. Marriages involve 3 people, the couple and God, just like in the Garden of Eden. You will recall then that after the sin was exposed, the marriage was the first thing to get out of whack.
In 45 years in ministry I can guarantee that usually neither the husband nor the wife will tell the truth about why they have chosen separation. I have learned that many women have committed adultery and for some reason are unwilling to confess and ask for forgiveness. Men will blame the wife and then proudly confess adultery. But often it is money as well. And so it goes. It is not really our business unless that person is a paid church official.
In any event, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:15 “But if the unbeliever departs, let that one depart. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called us to peace.” And it doesn’t mean that someone is an unbeliever because he or she leaves – anyone can leave if that is the arrangement. They need peace and we can provide it to one or both of them without taking sides. If we do take sides we bring unnecessary judgment down on our own heads.
The Church is to judge not marriages, but leadership. I Timothy has long instructions on selecting leaders, and then not by individuals but by the whole group.