Morning Reading for July 24

Matthew 19:3-12
(Mark 10:2-12)

Suggested further reading: Ephesians 5:23-33

In the days when our Lord was upon earth divorces were permitted amongst the Jews for the most trifling and frivolous reasons. The practice, though tolerated by Moses to prevent worse evils, such as cruelty and murder, had gradually become an enormous abuse and no doubt led to much immorality (Mal. 2:14-16). The remark made by our Lord's disciples shows the deplorably low state of public feeling on the subject (v. 10).

Our Lord brings forward a widely different standard for the guidance of his disciples. He first founds his judgement on the original institution of marriage (vv. 4-5). He then backs up the quotation by his own solemn words (v. 6). And finally he brings in the grave charge of breaking the seventh commandment against marriages contracted after a divorce for light and frivolous reasons (v. 9).

The importance of the whole subject on which our Lord pronounces judgement can hardly be overrated. The marriage relation lies at the very root of the social system of the nations. It is a fact clearly ascertained that polygamy and permission to obtain divorce on slight grounds have a direct tendency to promote immorality.

It becomes all those who are married or purpose marriage to ponder this passage well. Of all relations of life none ought to be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so cautiously as that of husband and wife. In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found if entered upon discreetly, advisedly and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery to be found if entered into unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly and without thought.

In the matter of marriage let three rules be observed. Firstly, marry only in the Lord and after prayer for God's approval and blessing. Secondly, do not expect too much of marriage. Two sinners are involved, not two angels. Thirdly, strive first and foremost for each other's sanctification (Eph. 5:25-26).

For meditation: Marriages have to be worked at. They do not prosper automatically.


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