March Like Jesus
… In Our Behavior – Part V
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:31-42
Key Verse: Matthew 5:37
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
There are three different “marching orders” from Jesus in our Scripture Reading for today’s study. The three subjects are divorce, oaths, and retaliation.
Let’s first look at Jesus’s standards for divorce. Once again Jesus said to His listeners, “you have heard it said”, referring to the Law and practices of Old Testament times. In this case, the crowd had heard that a man could get a divorce by simply writing a notice to his wife and letting her know the marriage is over.
Jesus boldly announces that this standard is no longer in affect. God’s people are to take their marriage vows seriously and never take the path to divorce. The one exception that Jesus gave was when one of the marriage partners commits adultery; with that Jesus said divorce is allowed but not mandated.
I have seen many couples work through a partner’s unfaithfulness and enjoy a healthy relationship. This normally demands Christian counseling and an openness to the strength of God’s Holy Spirit.
Would God allow a divorce when there is physical or emotional abuse in a marriage? This question does not have a simple “yes” or “no” answer; there are too many factors to consider. Certainly, the abuse must end. Reconciliation usually happens with a time of separation while the couple seeks counseling. In the end, if the abuse continues, I do not believe God would ever ask anyone to stay in such a marriage.
(The subject of divorce is a huge subject that I cannot cover in this devotional. If you have a situation that you would like to get specific advice on, please feel free to email me at pbwalls88 <at> gmail.com. I am not a professional counselor but over 45 years of pastoring I have helped many people deal with the divorce issue.)
The second “marching order” in this passage is about making oaths. People in Jesus day did a lot of “swearing by heaven” to emphasize what they were saying was true. Jesus wanted His followers to be people of truth and integrity all the time with no need to “swear” that something they said was true.
Jesus concluded this section with “let your yes be yes and your no be no”. We must be careful to keep our word and our commitments. I am sure you know someone who easily says “yes” but seldom follows through; this is not what God wants to see in His people.
Our world takes a dim view of the church these days. I wonder how much of that is the lack of integrity they see in those who let it be known that they are “church goers”?
Father, help me to follow Your truth as I live in my marriage and communicate with people around me. I ask this in Jesus’s Name, amen.