Daily Devotion for September 10, 2009
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret (Greek Orthodox)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Community of Prayer
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Gospel of Matthew 5:27-32
The Sermon on the Mount [Part 4] - Adultery and Divorce
You have heard that it was said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'; but I tell you, that every one who looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already, in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, pull it out, and throw it away: for it is better for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish, than your whole body go to hell.
It was also said, 'Whoever leaves his wife should give her a written divorce'; but I tell you, that every one who leaves his wife, except for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress: and whoever marries her when she is abandoned commits adultery.
Notes on the Lesson
Like yesteday's gospel (Matthew 5:21-26), the specifics of the example are partly archaic due to changes in society and civil law. (For example, divorce in modern society can be instigated by women.) But the message does not depend on splitting hairs.
There are theological differences in the interpretation of these passages, particularly with the issue of divorce caused by adultery. We are not qualified to address such issues. All we can advise is that you read God's word with an open and honest mind, seeking to learn, rather than to search for language that will justify your preconceptions. There is a wonderful old joke, that a sinner uses the Bible like a drunk uses a lamppost: More for support than illumination. We want to reject the parts we find inconvenient and promote the parts we find to our liking.
This passage is particularly difficult for a Christian who is divorced. Our nature is to justify ourselves and to rationalize our behavior. If we hear that something we have done is wrong, we want to reject the source instead of accepting that we might have done something wrong. But the answer lies in God's forgiveness, and the fact that nobody is perfect, not in letting modern society seduce us away from God's immutable law. Acknowledging that we might have sinned is difficult. But praying for forgiveness in Christ's name is easy, once we can admit our fault, because Christ's love and mercy is an endless cascade. He brings Niagra Falls to anyone who seeks a cup of the water of forgiveness.