Thursday, August 11, 2005

God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle

How frequently we hear these words offered in pressing times, usually preceded by the words, "Like the Bible says..." It's interesting that what many people mean by their paraphrase is something along the order of "God will keep you from being overwhelmed." But is that what is actually promised? I don't think so. 


The verse that people have in mind when they say this actually has to do with temptation. Paul is warning the Corinthians against idolatry and immorality like that engaged in by the Israelites in the desert (1 Cor.10:6-11). The actual promise, found in 1 Cor 10:13 is that God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability but will provide a way of escape so that we can withstand the temptation without giving into sin. The emphasis of the verse is moral but this is often lost in the way we loosely paraphrase the text. (Might this be an indicator that we value a culturally-derived notion of psychological well-being more than holiness?) The believer is never justified in saying that he or she just had to sin because the temptation was too great. I like the way Ed Welch puts it in his book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness: "He will never put you in a situation where a sinful response is the only way out." 


If Paul really intended to make a general statement about God never giving Christians more than they could handle, then we'd have a hard time explaining his own testimony in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

23 comments:

Franklin Mason said...

If it were the case that God never gives us more than we can handle, it must follow that we can handle absolutely anything at all. I recall a story about a Muslim woman in Bosnia who was forced to watch her child be bayonetted to death and was then raped by the men who had killed her child. How does one 'handle' a situation like that? Simple answer: one doesn't.

Anonymous said...
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Jeff said...

In my experience, God loves to give me more than I can handle. Otherwise, I wouldn't be as dependent on Him as I need to be.

empressbarb said...

How do you expect to land a lucrative book deal with ideas like this one?

Of course we really do need to hear this message and not rely on what we feel the bible says, but what it really does say.

KP said...

empressbarb, what if I just call the book God Won't Give You More than You can Handle to reel them in and then spring the message on them afterward? ;-)

mrclm said...

It's been almost 4 months since you posted this Keith, and the same since I posted about you posting this, and I still get 2-3 hits PER week from this single post of your's. 2-3 people traveling from your site to mine. I'm quite impressed! Thanks again for the link and driving traffic my direction!

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

KP said...

Chris, I've been surprised at the mileage this one post has gotten myself. It receives daily hits as a result of searches done for some variation of "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." Some ask where in the Bible it says that.

I understand how people end up at your blog by doing a search for that phrase since you linked to my post but how are they traveling from that post to your blog?

mrclm said...

I suppose they are getting to my blog in two ways. 1) from the link at the bottom of this post to my blog, and 2) when doing a search, they must be finding my comments on your post, so it ends up driving them to my site eventually.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

suzanne said...

I just want to thank you for putting this out there. I am so sick of Christians misquoting scripture because they are too lazy to look for the actual passage and expecting each other (and ourselves) to just take another one on the chin for Jesus and smile at each other saying, "Well, God doesn't give us more than we can handle." And they generally follow with "I wish He didn't have so much faith in me." No offense to anyone who has said this but I am a Christian and I am pathetic and God knows better than to have faith in me. I have faith in Him. But bad things happen that we can't explain. Sin and evil surround us. But so does God's love. If I believe that God doesn't give me more than I can handle, the focus is taken off of God and is put on me. I just appreciate you putting this online. Please leave it. Suzanne Clark

Hawspipe said...

"God never gives us more than we can handle" is actually a paraphrase of Corinthians 10:13:

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it."

I interpret that to mean pretty much exactly what is so often paraphrased. I realize this post is years old, but I hope you and others who google their way here find this reassurance.

God's Project said...

Thank you for putting into words with scriptural reference what I have felt in my heart for years.

Lynsay said...

Thank you. Exactly what I needed today. Was searching.

Lynsay said...

Thank you. Exactly what I needed today. I was searching. Loved the 2 Cor verses.

KP said...

Lynsay, you're most welcome. I'm glad this was of help to you. I greatly appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

Rebecca said...

Yes, you wrote this a few years ago. However, it is definitely still relevant. :)
Going through something now, and I've had numerous people say, "It's okay, God won't give you more than you can handle." My response was, "yeah, that's right, he won't!" No wait a minute, is that biblical? I'm not sure!
I did some research, and I love how you put it. So, instead of "re-inventing the wheel" so to speak, I shared this blog post (hope that's okay!).
Have a wonderful day!
~Blessings

KP said...

That's fine with me, Rebecca. I'm glad this was helpful to you and I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. He is risen!

Sandy..... said...

Yes.. the date was a while ago.. but I agree with Rebecca. This is always relevant! God's word... NEVER changes. (unless it's manipulated by man)
:D Keep up the good work.

KP said...

Thank you, Sandy!

BAY said...

This is very interesting. I actually plan on writing an essay on this matter. I do indeed find it all to compelling that people mind and thoughts can not be so properly clear. And so it is said, that "he" will never give you more than you can handle. We this could certainly be nothing but pure foolishness. Man, according to the legend, failed in the old testament. He could not live by the laws. He was given more than he could handle. And thus, the legend of jesus had to come and bail out the man. Hmm, contraction indeed. But who is to say that purity is a necessity of the wanted heart.

Annie Womack said...

BAY- Unfortunately I think your comment and subject of this blog reflects the fact that we often approach the Bible looking for what we want to be there, rather than what actually is. For example if we want to believe that God will not give us more than we can handle, then that's we find this verse to say. Also, if we want to believe that the Bible is contradictory that's what we find. I think what can be learned from this is that we can not take verses out of context because then we risk using the verse for our purposes rather than the author's purposes. As a result we are left with our message rather than the truth.

Gerald Stafford said...

I know this is a really old post, however, while your focusing on how people misuse this verse, and your focusing on the word tempted. You're missing the many different ways that you are tempted to sin, and in all things even things seemingly good, Satan is trying to tempt you. Though we may fail and fall into temptation, God by the Power of his Holy Spirit did make us more than capable to handle all things. We are overwhelmingly more than conquerors. Example from old testament is the entire book of Job. God allowed Satan to do those things to Job. At anytime Job could've said or did something contrary to his faith. Our flesh is constantly tempting us. Outside forces happen around us all of the time. Causes us to make choices. Everyday life,everything that happens is a temptation. Even some blessings are temptations. Satan has the power to bless also. (tempted Jesus with authority over this world he he worshiped him)So yes, if you are not ignorant to the Satan schemes you will be able to realize that you have the power to do all things through Christ, he will not allow your more than you can handle. Kill your flesh, your desires and you will see this statement as true. It still goes back to Choices with Adam and Eve, but the second Adam, Jesus left us the power of the Holy Spirit. Greater works shall we do than even Him to them that believe. He was tempted, suffered, endured all things, Yet without sin. Please understand that temptation is in every area of life. Someone dies naturally, Loved ones are tempted to think and do many things. Satan attacks your thoughts.
Though you may think people are taking the verse out of context. You need to do a word study on each word and see how the word temptation makes this statement true. Key however, it's true for believers and those who have the power of the holy spirit.
Be Blessed

Darius Postell said...

One must still trust God.Putting their hope in God. That is a difficult situation, but a believer gets through those situation by the power of God almighty. He gives us peace to preserve

Darius Postell said...

Very well said! God be the glory for your understanding