John 13:34 - (Jesus said) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
"How do you do it?"
A friend and I had been chattering on about trivialities over our burgers and fries for nearly 20 minutes before he sprung that question.
Do what, I wondered, until he reminded me that he was single. The solitude of living alone once more after two years of marriage weighed almost unbearably on him.
The divorce followed the classic pattern. The couple was married before either of them celebrated a 19th birthday. There were the pressures of too little money combined with the demands of school and delayed careers. Family entanglements strained the relationship even more. Personality quirks in both partners that seemed trivial (or even amusing) in month one, proved all but unbearable in month 21.
Both individuals were Christians. Both were sinners. Both were reluctant to seek help before it was too late. Then, one morning shortly before Christmas, he awoke to find her gone.
How do you do it? The ice cubes in our sodas melted as we talked and talked. Seeing his pain, I had no pat answers.
God ordained marriage. He did not intend to provide escape clauses for incompatibility or personal convenience. Jesus tells us that Moses allowed divorce only because of the hardness of our hearts. The root of all divorce is sin—sin on the part of both partners to a greater or lesser degree.
Yet as much as God hates sin, He clearly loves sinners. He grieves over our heartaches even more than we do.
Many times divorced people lose not only their spouse, but several of their friends as well. The couples with whom a divorced person used to socialize now feel uncomfortable with him or her. Singles not yet married act so as to betray the attitude "You had your chance and blew it." Christians, who of all people should know and show the love of Jesus toward sinners, speak with harsh and unfeeling judgment, ostracizing the newly single person.
A friend of mine keeps a rock on her desk with a large "I" printed on it in magic marker. When tempted to gossip, she glances at it and remembers the words of Jesus: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7b).
How do we do it? How do we show more committedly the sacredness of marriage? Yet, realizing human weakness, how can we minister more lovingly to those of our brothers and sisters agonizing with the pain of divorce. The woman at the well of Samaria had divorced five husbands and was living in adultery with another man. Jesus went out of His way to meet her where she was at in life—and love her.
How can we do anything less?
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive the hardness of our hearts toward others. May we, like Jesus, see people as hurting, lonely, and in need of Your saving love. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, April 1980 issue, "The First Stone" by Jane Fryar
1. Why do you think the Bible places such significance on marriage?
2. How do we love others with the love of Christ?
3. Do you have any special things you do to keep your self-importance in check?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"