“Skip to the end.” (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 2, 2014)

My favorite movie of all time is a fantasy classic, The Princess Bride. One of the climactic moments involves a conceited ruler, Prince Humperdinck, as he is standing at the altar to marry his reluctant fiancée, Princess Buttercup. The Impressive Clergyman (that’s the character’s name) opens the scene with this line in an accented drawl: “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam …”

(I won’t bother with spoiler alerts, because the book was written in the early ‘70s, and the movie came out in 1987. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you are missing out and need to come over and watch it straightaway. Bring popcorn. I’ll try not to quote the entire film.) Anyway, back to the wedding. Prince Humperdinck loses his patience and his temper, demanding the priest to “skip to the end.” The Impressive Clergyman says man and wife, and the couple is married. Or are they?

We are looking at Matthew 5:27-37 this week, which is a passage of Scripture that has provoked a lot of controversy over the years. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of it, but I want to encourage you to think about the message behind the words. Using three examples (adultery, divorce & oaths), Jesus states the existing law and then gives a broader interpretation of it. In each instance, his perspective deals with the heart of the matter, not just the letter of the law. Regarding adultery, he focuses on lust as the root issue. For divorce, he emphasizes the broken relationship. And about oaths, he reminds us of our humble place before God Almighty. We can’t skip to the end when it comes to heart matters.

When Princess Buttercup is finally rescued, she learns that she was never actually married to Prince Humperdinck because they never said, “I do.” By skipping that essential, personal element in the ceremony, their marriage was void. Relationships are not about crossing Ts and dotting Is. They’re the wholehearted investment of your life into another person’s life. That “bwessed awangment” is a partnership; it can’t be a one-way effort. You can’t skip to the end and call it done.

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