Speak the truth in love.

If you’ve been involved in church for more than a month you’ve probably realized that among the quotations of amazing Bible verses, there are lots of “churchy” sayings we use that generally go with the territory. Some are used for exclamation, and others are used for encouragement.

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
Jesus loves you.
He is risen, He is risen indeed!
Preach the Word.
God will never give you more than you can handle.

…to name a few. And most of these are based on biblical accounts or even paraphrased from scripture. But the most common quote I hear, which happens to be the last quote listed above, is one in particular I would like to call out.

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the Bible does it read nor even paraphrase “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I believe this to be a gross misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which reads, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I trust you spotted the distinction.

There is a difference between temptation and suffering. God clearly promises to protect us from more temptation than we can handle, and also provides ways for us to flee such temptation. But I see no mention of the Lord promising to keep us from more than we are able to bear, at least in general. In the instance of temptation, it’s obvious God has a plan in place any time we face a situation that will tempt us. But I can think of countless times when I was beyond the point of handling something, and the only way I could turn was to Christ for strength and provision and comfort.

I believe, with all my heart, that God will and does give us more than we can handle, for the reason that turning to Him in our darkest hours is a humbling experience that He delights in us doing.

It may be because of the state of the world we live in today, but far too often I am reminded that the Lord is a just God, that He detests evil, punishes wrongdoing, and is sure to render justice to those who bring it upon themselves. Not often enough am I reminded that God is a patient, loving, gentle, forgiving, uplifting Lord.

Consider Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

I am convinced that the roaring Lion of Judah is equally the tender Lamb of God, and that because of this He may allow circumstances into our lives that bring us to our knees in desperate prayer for His loving hand of comfort.

I know that I am not the only one guilty of misusing this quote on more than one occasion. Many Christians have used it as a form of encouragement without considering the biblical accuracy of such a statement. Well, I’m sorry, friends. It’s a sentiment. Not a truth.

Fellow Christians, let us be Bereans. Let us search the scriptures eagerly to be sure of what we hear and say is truth. Let us speak words of encouragement from the Word of God, and not the pity of our hearts and the smoothness of our tongues.

Let us speak truth in love.

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