God On Divorce

Steve Arterburn

There are two ways to give a command. You can take a positive approach, such as, ‘Follow God!’ Or you can spell out things to avoid, like, ‘Flee the devil.’

 

In Malachi chapter two, God uses both approaches to emphasize the sacredness of marriage. First, in verse 15, it’s stated positively: ‘Guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.’ Then, in the very next verse, the same message is put quite another way: ”For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel.’

 

Why is God so zealous about marriage? One reason among many is that God knows real contentment comes from the deep union of two souls, the kind found only within the security of an exclusive, lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. That’s the way He designed us.

 

Unfortunately, most of us’including me’have seen, or even been in, marriages with little evidence of such oneness. Today, divorce is increasingly common among both Christians and non-Christians alike. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay. I speak from experience when I say divorce breaks God’s heart.

 

Yes, God can forgive divorce. If He could repeatedly absolve the nation of Israel for its many sins over the centuries, He too can forgive a husband and wife who’ve wrecked their marriage.

 

But guys, make no mistake: God would much rather see your commitments kept, commitments made before God and witnesses at your marriage ceremony. He’d like to see your loyalty honored, and the spiritual oneness between you and your wife kept sacred. Strive for it! 

Integrity Equals Security

Steve Arterburn

Proverbs 10:9 contains a wonderful promise for you’a promise worthy t think on. The text reads like this: ‘The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.’

 

In other words, the immediate, day-to-day benefit of the man who walks with an undivided heart before God is security. 

 

And why wouldn’t it be? The man this text describes has undivided loyalties. His choices are clear. He has no hangovers of character to nurse. When he’s away on business, he’s the same person as when he’s at home. He’s the same guy on Friday and Saturday nights as he is on Sunday morning. He’s a father who says what he does and does what he says. He’s a husband his wife can trust, respect, and follow.

 

This is a man who has matured beyond the point of needing instant gratification. Imagine it! Feeling good is replaced by feeling right about yourself before God. And when you feel right about yourself, no matter what your circumstances or your mood, you are content and connected to God, your family, and your purposes as God’s man. Now that’s security without stress. That’s the blessing of walking with integrity before God.

 

Now let me ask you this: does that sound as good to you as it does to me? It’s God’s desire for your life, men. So let it become your desire as well. Let it become your prayer, your passion, and your pursuit.

Positive Pain

Steve Arterburn

Sometimes forgiveness involves pain. When we confront people regarding betrayal, abandonment, abuse, deception, or other offenses, we’ll likely experience sorrow. We need to accept this as part of the consequences of sin and learn to freely express it to God. He can transform the pain associated with wrongdoing and bring about good for everyone involved.

Remember men: not all sorrow is bad for you. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth that made them sad because he confronted them about wrongdoing. He initially regretted hurting them. But after reflection he wrote these words, which you can find in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: ‘Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed’in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.’

The grief Paul described was good. It was caused by his love for others in action, and accessed in light of honest self-evaluation. Like Paul, we too must learn that sometimes sorrow is a positive part of our spiritual growth. So when you’re confronted with it, don’t run from it and don’t reject it. Enter into it asking God to use it to direct the course of your life along redemptive paths.