“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Over the past four weeks, we have been examining a few of the most popular Bible verses and how their meaning can only be properly understood when read in context. Today’s verse is no exception.
This just might be the most cross-stitched verse of all time, found on countless pillows, keychains, and coffee mugs. I mean, who doesn’t love the promise of prosperity and hope for our careers and families? The only problem is, these promises weren’t made to you and me.
These promises were made to a specific people, at a specific point in time, under a specific set of circumstances. The Lord delivered this promise to Israel in the midst of His punishment of His people. Just a few verses prior to this famous passage, we are told that God had “carried [Israel] into exile from Jerusalem to...
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. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
If you’ve ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” and wondered where that’s found in the Bible—it’s not. But this verse is where that lie is typically derived from.
1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” This, of course, is wonderful and true! As James 1:13 makes clear, God himself is incapable of tempting anyone.
But somewhere along the way, we took 1 Corinthians 10:13 way out of context to wrongfully claim that God will never give us more than we can handle. Nowhere is that promise found in Scripture, and I think we all know from experience that this cliché isn’t true.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
We’re in a four-week series on Bible verses that are frequently taken out of context at work. Today’s may be one of the most abused passages in all of Scripture.
The athlete tattoos Philippians 4:13 on his arm to provide inspiration for the big games.
The sales executive recites the verse before her big pitch.
The author keeps these words on a post-it note to push toward a seemingly impossible deadline.
We tend to use this verse as a bite-sized motivational speech to inspire our striving. Ironically, the context of this verse in some ways inspires the opposite. Philippians 4:13 was not written to fuel your ambitions. It was written to cultivate contentment.
Take a look at the verse in the context of Paul’s words which precede it: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have...
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
This may be one of the most quoted verses in the Church today, and for good reason. This verse contains a wonderful promise; but it’s not the promise we sometimes claim from this passage.
This verse is frequently taken out of context to provide hope amidst difficult circumstances. Have you lost your job? Did your business fail? Has your spouse filed for divorce? As your brother in Christ, I am terribly sorry for your difficult circumstances, but I beg of you not to use this verse to claim that God must have something better in store for you. That is not what this verse means.
When circumstances are not what we would choose for ourselves at work or at home, we must remember three things.
First, God is sovereign and in control, even when our circumstances might suggest otherwise. As Job said in...