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  • Adam Butler

Why "God Will Not Give You More Than You Can Handle" is Not Biblical

You have probably heard this one before, or at least a variant of it: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Would you be surprised if I told you that is not a Biblical claim?

“God will never allow you to be put through more than you can handle.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard something like this. It sounds good, and it’s inspirational! This is the kind of slogan that you will see printed on coffee mugs, t-shirts, and used as captions in Instagram posts. The problem is that it is nowhere to be found in Scripture.

“But wait a minute, what about 1 Corinthians 10:13?” You might ask. Well, let us take a look at that verse in its entirety.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says this: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

So if we look at the actual verse from which this phrase is most likely derived, we see that the verse has nothing to do with being put through hardships. Instead, Paul is talking to the church in Corinth about temptation. In fact, just a quick glance at the context of this verse reveals this to be true of the whole section of this letter. Paul begins this section by warning the believers about idolatry.

He goes on to describe the danger of falling into sexual immorality. Both of these things lead up to his promise that, quote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is uncommon to man.” In other words, if you ever feel a strong temptation to do something you know is wrong, and it seems extremely difficult to resist, just know that someone else has experienced exactly what you are feeling.

But the promise of hope is in that same verse. Whenever we are tempted to sin, God will always provide a way of escape so that we may be able to endure or withstand it. So no one will ever be forced to sin. Satan simply does not possess this power.

Hold on a minute, Adam. I’ve heard that verse quoted differently before! Can’t it also be translated as trials instead of temptation? You’re right! But a trial, in this sense, means the same thing as temptation. It is a test so to speak. In fact, that word in the Greek is the word peirasmos, which can be translated as temptation or trial, and of the roughly 20 times it is used in the New Testament, almost all of the instances are speaking about temptations, not hardships.

So, once we dive into the context of the verse by reading the whole passage, we see that this passage is talking about trials in the sense of our allegiance to God’s commands being tested or challenged, otherwise known as temptation.

So this should serve as a reminder that any common slogan like this should be tested with the scrutiny of Scripture. Just because it sounds Biblical does not mean it is Biblically sound. It may taste good, but it may just be bubblegum gospel, which provides little to no true, Biblical sustenance.

We also have to be careful when feeding people mere tweetable slogans like this that are not necessarily scriptural. Jesus warns in the parable of the sower that some will hear the gospel and receive it with joy, but when persecution comes because of the Word, they will quickly fall away.

We must speak the full truth of Scripture if we are going to be faithful proclaimers of the word, and that is to say that life will not always be easy for Christians, or anyone for that matter. In fact, we are never promised an easy walk, but a difficult one because of Christ. If we feed people nothing but bubblegum, they will have a rude awakening when the true aspects of life come into play. In fact, promising people a life of prosperity, health and wealth is a direct lie. A false teaching that goes against Scripture.

But one last thing on this: if it were the case that God did not allow hardships more than we could bear, how would we explain tragedies like someone dying at a young age due to cancer? Cancer is certainly a hardship, but if it is the case that God will bring us out of every storm, why isn’t everyone cured of cancer? Because Scripture never promises such a thing. In fact, the phrase everything happens for a reason needs to be used with caution for this very reason.

Sometimes the “reason” for the hardships we endure in life is simply that we are sinners living in a broken, fallen world, and hardships and struggles are a byproduct of that. Now, God certainly can—and does—work through those trials for our good or for the good of others, though we may not know this side of eternity what the purpose for suffering is. Even so, just because we may not be able to handle every storm thrown at us, God always can. So, God will never let us be put through more than He can handle. And that is an encouraging thought.

In summation, context is not only important when reading any text, especially Scripture; it is vital in order to attain a complete understanding of God’s Word. We simply do not have the liberty of ripping verses from their intended context, and thus creating a meaning the author himself never intended. Keep this in mind the next time you read a Bible verse; read the rest of the chapter, or even the whole book! The words of Scripture are the spiritual sustenance for which many of us are, unknowingly, longing.

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