Sunday, October 13, 2013

God WILL Give Us More Than We Can Handle

Let's take a look at one of the most misinterpreted Scriptures in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." Why do I say this is one of the most misinterpreted Scripture in the Bible? Because many, many people attach the proverbial "God won't give us more than we can handle" quote to this and this quote is nowhere in the Bible! It's man made and man's misinterpretation of what is meant for temptation. First let's look at what this Scripture actually means and then we'll discuss the man made version.

1 Corinthians 10:13 is actually speaking about temptation being brought to us, to the common, sin-natured man. Temptation is the first word in the Greek for emphasis. It references not only temptation but also to trials and testings. Every temptation is a test; every test is a temptation. The fact that in every test that God allows in our life, in our path and in our walk, there always comes with it the potential that we might allow it to become a temptation to sin. God will never tempt us to sin. James 1:13-15 makes this clear, "v13) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. v14) But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. v15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."  But our fallen flesh processes the tests and trials that God allows and it says in essence, "I think I'll use this as an opportunity to sin." Please remember that we are always responsible for how we CHOOSE to respond. Don't blame God, other people, circumstances, etc, if you sin when tested/tempted! It is strictly your choice....

1 Corinthians 10:13 is stating emphatically that God WILL provide a way of escape from the temptation Gal 5:23, Gal 5:16 and living by Faith in Gal 2:20.  If we do not resist, it becomes a solicitation to sin. The former New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra once said: “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” Even though he was no great theologian, he unwittingly carved out one of the greatest principles of the Christian doesn't matter if you're leading in the beginning, what DOES matter is how you finish the game! Victory is won as we cross over the finish line, NOT when we start the race. The Christian life, the walk on the path to righteousness, isn't a 100 yard dash. It's a MARATHON of continual endurance, and a lifetime of committing to finish strong! "It ain't over til it's over" cliche also reminds us that no matter how far behind a Christian may get, or fall, there is still time to finish well......that which we are facing. Just to make sure we understand though, whether the test becomes a proof of righteousness or an inducement to evil, depends on OUR response. If we resist in God’s power, which is the ONLY way, it is a test that proves our faithfulness.

There are three principles within 1 Corinthians 10:13 that I would like to point out and briefly discuss. The first one is:
1.Temptation is common to every person, so there is no temptation that is unique. In the Greek, the three words translated into our English, “common to man” are actually pressed into a single term. A more literal way to read that simply would be, “No temptation has seized you that is not human” (anthropinos, i.e., manlike). None of us can hide behind the argument that our sin is unique, or unusual, so we can be excused. It is impossible to be in business and not be tempted to sacrifice people for profit, since in business, the bottom line IS profit. Government workers can, often times, be regularly tempted to forfeit integrity for promotions, forfeit ethics and morals to look the other way. But does being tempted mean we must sin? Absolutely NOT!

2. God controls the context of our temptation. We've all been driving down the highways and have seen the load limits designed for the truckers transporting goods across our many highways from one destination to the next. These limits are put in place as a weight bearing warning of unnecessary strain.Knowing that too much strain can cause severe damage or complete collapse, engineers determine the exact amount of stress that various materials can safely endure. Posted warnings tell us not to exceed the maximum load. Some people, can bear the pressure of many trials and temptations better than others; yet everyone has a breaking point and can take only so much. In this verse, Paul promises that God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tested or tempted beyond what you are able. Yet, we must draw on God to deliver us. God will provide the way of our escape!

3. God personally and providentially provides a specific way of escape.  The use of the definite article (“the”) with both “temptation” and “way of escape” points to a particular way of escape that's available to us in each temptation we may face. Paul didn't mean there's only ONE way of escape available regardless of the temptation. His point is: Look for the escape route! There is a way out! There is ALWAYS a way out and by that Paul also doesn't mean that we sit back passively, eating our favorite comfort food, asking Him to make the way of escape from whatever sin is tempting us. We are responsible to do our part as well. In 10:13-14, Paul states that we discover God’s saving plan in these key words: “bear,” “stand up,” and “flee” (10:12-14). Paul wants us to be victorious. He wants us to persevere through our tests and temptations. He is for us!

In 1 Cor 10:1-13, the apostle Paul warns us about the dreadful and severe consequences of sin. He is also challenging us to avoid sin and persevere in our Christian lives. Paul makes a good argument of the very real possibility that many Christians won't finish their Christian lives well. Take a look back in 9:24-27 and you will notice how Paul shared how he strived to keep himself in check because he didn’t want to end up being disqualified from the prize of God’s approval. What he considered a possibility in his own life he now presented as a sad reality in the lives of God’s people in the Old Testament. In this, Paul gives us a major history lesson, with the express purpose of getting us to learn from the past. Someone has once said, “If history teaches us anything, it is that history teaches us nothing.” In other words, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. In these 13 verses, God is basically saying, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”

Now let's talk about the proverbial phrase, "God won't give me more than I can handle." Where did this come from? Well, from all of my intense research on this very phrase, all avenues keep pointing to the same person, that it was originally penned and spoken by Mother Teresa but with the addition of "but I wish he wouldn't trust me so much." So let's really THINK about this saying. We need to delve deep inside ourselves to really grasp what this is actually saying and implying. If God DIDN'T test us and try us and give us more that WE can handle, beyond what we think is reasonable, then what that says is we, as INDIVIDUALS, are CAPABLE of doing everything on our own, without Him. It's making a bold statement that we don't NEED God. Oh, but my dear readers, we DO! In my own life, I find, time and time again, that I AM given more than I personally can handle! It forces my character to get in line, it forces me to turn fully to the Lord God in seeking His face, strength and guidance, and it forces me to really see how little I actually am! I NEED God. I NEED Jesus! I've had times, and very recently I might add, that it's been one thing compounded after another. I got totally overwhelmed with ALL of it and diverted too. It's only when I'm being pushed to that limit that I'm able to see what He is doing in my life, what things, attitudes, actions, or words I need to get rid of and how He is moving me closer to Him by having me CALL on Him, through seeking Him more earnestly. That's what He wants's US who mess that up thinking wrongly that "we've got this."

Well, we DON'T! Think about the decisions you've made, haughtily, and without praying like you should. How disastrous the outcome was, or maybe the outcome was ok, but YOU weren't, either emotionally or spiritually. Yea, we've all done that. We've all been there. It's HARD sometimes to give up control of what WE think we can do. But honestly, just recently in my own life, I went through some extremely hard times, and still going through them. I got overwhelmed. I wanted to throw in the towel and run away. I got flustered. And favorite verse popped into my chaotic mind and took over.....Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Yes, indeed! He will! I need to be reminded from time to time to NOT lean on my own understanding because I know I don't understand some things. God does though! The Lord is my refuge! He keeps me from all harm. He's going to direct me and I TRUST Him implicitly. This verse always spoke to me because it tends to go way beyond what us mere mortals can achieve on our own.....and the saying above about God not giving us more than we can handle....well, that just reinforces man's ego. I don't want that kind of an ego....because I know, if I DON'T lay it all at the foot of the cross, I sure won't be able to handle all that's been coming my way. I can only do it through Jesus!

Might I be so bold as to say that I think God DOES allow us to be in situations where we can’t handle it and when it is beyond our strength so that we will NEED to depend on Him even more! In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 Paul wrote (emphasis with underlining key phrases is MINE): "v8) For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; v9) indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; v10) who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us," Notice that Paul said that this affliction that came to them in Asia “burdened them excessively” and was “beyond our strength.” And he concludes that this was…“in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God…” (v. 9) So it actually appears that God will give us more than what we can handle in order for us to turn the steering wheel over to Him so He can steer our lives! The point is that the key to the Christian life is not trying to be strong in ourselves, but rather letting God’s power and strength fill and empower us through the inevitable difficulties of life and even Gospel ministry.

What we can be assured of is that when we go through these difficult trials, and we all will, God will be with us through every step of the way. He also will use our trials, tests and difficulties to develop perseverance and proven character. This is evidenced in Romans 5:3-4, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Also in James 1:2-4, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, v3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. v4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." He will use our experiences of His strength, His light and His mercy showing up in our storm so that we may comfort others who are going through similar stuff. And that's when we can say to them, from our own experience, ‘you will make it through this.’

His Strength!
Even Paul was burdened beyond his ability to endure! It’s right there in the Scriptures! If Paul was burdened beyond his ability, don’t you think we too can be burdened beyond our ability to endure? Oh I believe so! Now that we've established the REAL TRUTH to the cliche' saying, and the scripture from where it was misinterpreted, since God will give us more than we can handle, the question should be HOW can we deal with all of life's situations? All these years people have gone around saying the cliché, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” And it’s a lie! I’m guilty too. I've said it to many people before as well. Not because I was intending to misquote scripture, but because it was CARELESS of me. I take full responsibility for doing so. God never said he wouldn't give us more than we could handle; nor did He say our life situations will be bearable. What He DID say was He will not tempt us with temptations to sin, beyond what you are able.

If this is not evidence enough for you, listen to what Paul says in this verse, 2 Corinthians 1:8, "We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die.” So HOW can we deal with all of life's situations that overwhelm us? The answer, is found in the verse above following Paul’s cry to God that he was unable to endure. 2 Corinthians 1:9, "But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” 

Paul says as a result of him being unable to endure, he learned to stop relying on himself and start relying on God! This is exactly what we need to do in such situations. Whatever situation you are going through, rely on God, rely on His Strength. Because WITH God, we can endure all things! Not some things, not a few things. But ALL things! It isn't of our own accord, though, but with God! Learn to rely on His strength, rather than your own. Once you've learned that, you will see a life transformed. By believing that God WON'T give us more than we can handle, than we are not only believing the lies of the enemy, but we are missing out on all the wonderful lessons of growing closer to the Lord God. By believing God won't give us more than we can handle, we won't learn to lean on His strength, rest in His arms and will grow tired and weary by all the failure we will inevitably endure because we are trying to do it all in our own way. The biblical truth isn't about ME bravely handling all there is in this world, it's quite the opposite. The biblical truth is that God is the One who has borne the weight and given me a way out. At best, I merely take God up on His offer. The biblical truth is allowing God to give us the strength, the endurance and the ability to face our failures when we do try to take the reins from Him. If we are honest, every situation we face is more than we can handle. We fail constantly.

His Hands Hold Us!
But, we grow when we recognize that life is never beyond what Christ can handle. In fact, He has already handled it for us. It's all been done! He has went before us and completed the outcomes! That is the biblical truth. God will allow you to experience things that you cannot bear alone to help you to grow in our dependence on Him. Isn't it better to depend on the strength of the God Almighty who created the heavens and the earths and everything IN it and above it!? God is a mighty God. If He is able to hold the world in His hands, than whatever is being allowed to cross my path in THIS life, I know is nothing to Him! So why do we fret and worry and feel overwhelmed then? We are human. And THAT'S why we need the Lord Jesus Christ!

All throughout the Bible we read of regular people who were handed some pretty seemingly impossible burdens to bear but instead of trying to handle life on their own, they drew closer to God, fully relying on Him for direction and deliverance. We read in scripture of how God gave each individual more they could handle on their own and then filled them with strength and the capability every step of the way. Just like the people and apostles in scripture, God longs for us to depend on Him when we are feeling overwhelmed with life and burdened by more than we can handle. He wants us to spend time with Him so we can be filled with what we need to get through each day. And it's a daily struggle. When our load seems too heavy to carry, it might be that God is not only waiting for us to recognize that we can’t handle it on our own, but also hoping that our desperation will build our spiritual appetite so much so that we wake up starving every morning. No matter what life hands us, just know that God will never give us more than HE can handle, because HE CAN HANDLE THE WHOLE UNIVERSE and that should be comforting! We can’t do it all, but He can!

God never said he wouldn’t give you more than you can handle; nor did he say your life situations will be bearable.  He said, he will not temp you with temptations to sin, beyond what you are able.These biblical examples remind us of Jesus’ words, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). May we learn from these biblical examples of failure and seek to finish well.

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