What Jesus Did! 'Do Not Divorce!' — Matthew 5:31-32

Friday, February 26, 2021

[Jesus continued:] "You have heard the law that says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.' But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery."
— Matthew 5:31-32 NLT

Key Thought

God said it forcefully, "I hate divorce!" (Malachi 2:16) 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). Still, God hates divorce because of the brokenness it creates in the lives of those involved and because of the loss of character in one or both parties that often causes divorce. Based on 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 are 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 strong families can be built and divorce and its devastation can be prevented.

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. In addition, dear Father, please strengthen and bless those that I know who are in marriage distress and ransom their marriage from impending divorce. (For those who are married:) Holy God, I pray that you not only keep me from divorce, but that you also lead me to a life of loving service and faithfulness with my marriage partner. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

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


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Illustration of Matthew 5:31-32 NLT — "You have heard the law that says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce."

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 and is available in book form.

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.