I got married for all the wrong reasons. Janie was super good-looking, laughed at my dumb jokes, and made me feel like the happiest, luckiest guy in the world. I was largely blind to my self-centeredness—I loved what the relationship brought to ME. I’m probably still just as selfish. Only now, I’m more aware of it. I’m also more aware of God’s brilliant design and incredible purposes for marriage: how the special union between husband and wife helps us understand and demonstrate the special union believers have with Christ; how marriage may be God’s greatest “discipleship program”; and how the true purity of my worship of the Lord can be accurately measured by my devotion to my wife. It is no wonder God puts such a premium on marital faithfulness, and why he’s against anything that jeopardizes that faithfulness.
- Do you ever equate faithfulness to a spouse with faithfulness to God?
READ THE WORD: MALACHI 2:10-16 (ESV)
10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!
13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
(Today’s questions focus on verses 13-16.)
- Re-read verse 13. Can someone be sorrowful and yet unrepentant? What might that look like?
- The people of Judah were going through the motions of worship. What flaws in your own worship might be an offense to God? (Consider your pervasive attitudes, weekday behavior, and personal prayers.)
- In previous verses, God had described Israel’s unfaithfulness to him by their intermarriage with pagans. What were the men of Judah also doing to their Israelite wives (vss. 14-16)? What strong language did God use regarding divorce in this context?
- In the passage, the phrase “guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” appears twice. In what ways can you guard yourself against possible unfaithfulness in your relationship with God and, if you are married, with your spouse? In what situations are you most on guard? Most vulnerable?
RESPOND TO GOD
Judah was breaking its covenant with God, and trying to cover it up by continuing their practices of worship, service, and offerings. God saw through their efforts and did not accept their worship. Religious practices can’t replace genuine spiritual devotion. The tears they shed were not over their sin, but rather were because God was not blessing them. No amount of unrepentant tears will change God’s stance against unfaithfulness. Faithfulness always trumps religious activity. This is especially true regarding faithfulness in the marriage covenant. However, sincere repentance immediately reestablishes broken fellowship with God and is the first step toward establishing faithfulness.
- Sincerely confess any harshness, neglect, or unfaithfulness toward God or your spouse.
- Seek the Lord’s direction in how to “guard yourself in your spirit.”