1. God doesn't give us more than we can handle.
Does God really give us problems in life? Sure, he can send us to some very difficult places like he did with the Apostle Paul and the other disciples, but does he really afflict us with “stuff”? Is that what this phrase is all about? The fact of the matter is that life, especially a Christ-follower's life, will be difficult from time to time. The Apostle Paul doesn't say, “Hey guys, things are going great and God hasn't given me more than I can handle.” No! He talks a lot about finishing the race, perseverance, persistence and difficulties. Next time you think about uttering this phrase, please think it through. Perhaps life has thrown curveballs at us now and again, but God can provide us the strength to make it through. Sometimes life is more than we can handle, so don't “sell” something that isn't always true.
2. God helps those who help themselves.
This phrase is my number 1 pet peeve. Christians sometimes fire this verbal artillery shell toward people who are poor, or seem lazy and unwilling to work. I find this phrase detestable when used in this fashion. It's judgmental, ignorant and wrong. Try looking for this phrase in the Bible—it's not there. It was made famous by Benjamin Franklin's book Poor Richard's Almanac in 1757, but has been attributed to Algernon Sydney in 1698. The truth is, God does help those who can't help themselves. After all, isn't that what Christ demonstrated in his death on the cross? “While we were still sinners [helpless], Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus often took pity on those who could not help themselves. If we are to emulate Christ in every way, shouldn't we do likewise, and ditch this erroneous “Christian” phrase?
3. Name it and claim it.
“If you pray and believe hard enough, that new [fill in the blank] can be yours—you just need to name it and claim it.” No! This philosophy is just flat out wrong. Jesus did say, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20), but the “name it and claim it” philosophy takes this passage completely out of context.
What is the purpose behind our faith and our convictions? Is it to please God? Is it to do his will? Or is it so we can have lots of money to afford nice stuff? There's nothing inherently wrong with money, but if it becomes the thing we worship and we start “naming and claiming” things just to get what we want, then we have lost sight of God. Stop naming and claiming stuff. It's not about stuff. It never was.
4. Everything happens for a reason.
This is another instance of misquoting Scripture. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). This phrase sometimes goes right along with, “God won't give you more than you can handle” as an explanation for when it does become more than you can handle. Just chalk it all up to “everything happens for a reason,” or “maybe it just wasn't God's will.”
The truth is that sometimes life has no rhyme or reason. Sometimes things just happen and it wasn't in God's plan. I don't want to get too theological, but I don't believe everything is 100 percent controlled by God. This is where free will comes in. This is where life comes in. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people and vice versa. I find it extremely difficult to say that it was all according to God's plan, or that “everything happened for a reason.” Of course, God can make something beautiful out of horrible situations, but that's different than attributing it to God. Sometimes there just isn't a good reason.
These are four phrases I think Christians should stop saying. Our credibility depends on it. Are there others you would add to this list? Feel free to include them in the comments below.
Captain Scott Strissel lives in Brainerd, Minnesota. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at pastorsponderings.org.
On Friday, May 15, 2015, Ada Noseworthy said:
On Friday, May 15, 2015, jim noonan said:
On number one I know what you are trying to say and you haven't got it all wrong but your not being entirely biblical, and I am not trying to be some know it all but I grew up in the Army also and I know God may throw some stuff at us or perhaps He just lets the consequences of being a human in a world of humans happen to us. Life may come to a point where it is more than we can handle but it is never more than our best friend, our Jesus can handle. [see Heb 2:18] Our faith is tangible and real. The Bible calls it substance. Being real it is evidence of unseen things. Evidence is use in court to convict people of crimes. What will the individuals you speak of say to the master when He tells them of the evidence of His existence and love that was shown through people who tried to tell them of Christ by what they had experienced. These people handled the hard times believing that Christ would see them through all because He was the all in all. Life may throw curveballs but God hasn't given up a passed ball since the beginning.
You are probably mostly correct on two. I have found that when I tried to take over myself what it really turned out to be was ego getting in the way. Ego gets in the way of what God is trying to accomplish in out lives. On the other hand - If we ask God, via prayer, [etc] to direct us, are we supposed to stand there until an angel appears or lightning strikes before we do anything. I am currently reading a book called : Blood and Fire : by Edward Bishop. It tells of Wm. Booth On page 55 realizing he would need the financial support of men of substance if the work was to proceed. I know he prayed about it but he didn't stand around waiting for the money to just come rolling in, instead he circulated a report of the missions activities. We take an action and God provides an answer. Even though God first took an action by taking our place on the cross he still requires us to stand on our own two knees and ask forgiveness and to be washed in the blood in order to be saved and begin out new life. I do see the idea you are trying to put forth but I think it is situational and must be handled as such.
Number four - The truth is this life does have a reason and His name is Jesus. Jesus is what this life has to be about. Accept Him or reject Him. The Army believes in the foreknowledge of God even though man has free will, thus we have situations as in Rom 1: 28-32. Though Jesus died for these people and loves these people just as much as He loves and died for you and myself, he has handed them over to reprobate minds. There is a rhyme and there is a reason. The fact that we cannot always understand the two is explained in Isa 55: 8-9 when God says His thoughts and His ways are above the thoughts and ways of mankind. He holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Yet mankind seeks to fully understand His ways. Remember Babel? We are only given so much to know and the rest is faith. I know I don't have to tell you we are justified by faith, but I will anyway. My sense of humor is bizarre.
I write this not to criticize or to prove you wrong. actually, the article was interesting to read. I always dread that my army goes down the path of so many churches and so I do watch to see what the new generation of officers and soldiers are putting out there for the sinner and saint to read. May God bless you and our army. The same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus lives.
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