What Jesus Did! 'Divorce!' — Matthew 5:31-32

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"It was also said, 'Any person that divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.' But I tell you that any person that divorces his wife is causing his wife to be guilty of the sin of adultery. The only reason for a person to divorce his wife is if his wife had sexual relations with another man. And any person that marries that divorced woman is guilty of the sin of adultery."
— Matthew 5:31-32 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 5:31-32 NLT — "It was also said, 'Any person that divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce."

Key Thought

The prophet Malachi said it forcefully, "God hates divorce!" Jesus' words here are equally emphatic. Jesus' condemnation is specifically directed to men because they were the only ones in Jewish culture in Jesus' time who could divorce a marriage partner. A woman was left with few options other than remarriage or poverty. While God hates divorce, Jesus' ministry demonstrates God's love for those broken by it (cf. John 4). In fact, God hates divorce because of the brokenness it creates in the lives of those involved and the loss of character in one or both parties that often causes divorce. Because of their love for God, husbands and wives have as their goal two key things: (1) loving each other and (2) learning faithfulness through their relationship with each other. By pursuing a loving relationship and remaining faithful sexually, they are guarding themselves against divorce and honoring God by maintaining their covenant with him and with each other. In an age where promiscuity and sexual indiscretion run rampant, we must heed the call to sexual purity and loving commitment so that divorce can be prevented and its devastation avoided.

Today's Prayer

Holy and faithful God, please help me keep my heart loyal and true. I want to be a person of character. Empower me by your Spirit to stay free of sexual sin and to be faithful in the commitments I make. Holy God, if I am married, I pray that you not only keep me from divorce, but that you also lead me to a life of loving service with my marriage partner. In addition, dear Father, please strengthen and bless those that I know who are in marriage distress and ransom their marriage from impending divorce. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Malachi 2:13-16
  • Matthew 19:9
  • 1 Corinthians 7:10-11


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.