Pursue a soft heart
Mark 10: 1- 12
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. 2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 ‘What did Moses command you?’ he replied. 4 They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ 5 ‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law, ’Jesus replied. 6 ‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female”. 7 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ 10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Jesus is continuingly being given the opportunity to speak about the relationships we have with others that affects our relationship with God. Having spent time in Galilee teaching the disciples about not being a stumbling block to others nor stumbling oneself he is now in the region of Judea and yet the conversation continues. He is now given the chance to speak about marriage in the same context.
The Pharisees come to trap him. They use the divorce question. But which modern Rabbi’s thinking are they following? I think there were 2 at the time: one who interpreted Moses’ law as saying you could divorce for adultery and one who said any cause was acceptable. These Pharisees are clearly of the latter’s persuasion. But this was not God writing the law, this was Moses and even then it wasn’t some divine revelation it was in response to one thing only, the hardness of their heart.
Why did Jesus respond to the disciples in the way he did? He was simply saying that if a person divorced a perfectly good marriage simply to marry another then that is adultery. Not many divorces are done for that reason.
The main central point in this passage is not the divorce or whether we have grounds to do it. It is this, the hardness of the heart breaks everything good. The sin is not the divorce, it is the hardness of heart. The threat to marriage is not the grounds for divorce it is the hardness of heart. From the beginning the heart was good but then it hardened and as it did rules were needed and Moses had to write them.
But the key to life is a soft heart.
A soft heart is large and incredibly patient. It is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. A soft heart does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. It does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. It is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. A soft heart joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. It is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. It never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. (TPT 1 Cor 13:4-7)
Can you now imagine the scene if the disciples had soft hearts and what their discussions would have been? Can you imagine what kind of questions the Pharisees would bring with soft hearts? Can you imagine all those years ago what Moses would have written if marriage partners had soft hearts? Can you imagine marriages today with soft hearts? Hard hearts kill everything. Divorce happens a long time before the divorce proper. It happens because one or both partners have hard hearts.
If we go to this passage looking for the rules on whether we have grounds for divorce and whether people should remarry etc, then we have missed the whole point. This has always been about the hardness of the heart.
May our prayer today be ‘soften my heart Lord’.