Christians sometimes act as if they need to protect God.
You see this most often in the religious sounding clichés that are posted on social media sites like Facebook. The trouble with many religious sounding clichés is that they simply don’t ring true. At least not if you are using the Bible as your standard of truth (and we all should be).
We profess to be people of truth but we don’t always express the truth in ways that are clear and helpful.
Here are two of numerous examples of clichés that Christians like to throw around.
God never shuts one door without opening another
There are variations in this, such as God never shuts a door without opening a window.
But where is that in the Bible?
The truth is that sometimes God shuts all the doors and leaves you standing in the hallway because you’re not spiritually ready for the opportunities He has for you.
The truth is that sometimes God shuts all of the doors because He wants you to stay right where you are and not be looking for other opportunities.
There may be more reasons that God does not open a door but you get the point.
There is no Biblical guarantee that when God shuts a door of opportunity, He’ll open another one for you.
Another spiritually twisted clichés is:
God never gives you more than you can handle.
Again, that’s not in the Bible. It’s a nice thought but not a Biblical thought.
But what would people think of God if He overloaded us with burdens? That’s far from loving in our minds.
And what about 1 Corinthians 10:13? Doesn’t it promise that God won’t give you more than you can handle?
Here’s what it says:
No temptation (some would say trial) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tried) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Because that’s in the Bible, it’s true. But is that the same thing as saying God never gives you more than you can handle?
Paul didn’t think so.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul said, we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.
Far beyond our ability to endure sure sounds like God gave him more than he could handle.
So how do we reconcile these two passages – both from the pen of the same writer?
The key is what follows in verse 9 where Paul exclaims, Yes! We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God.
God does give us more than we can handle, but not more than He can handle. And He does it for a reason – so that we learn to trust Him in the difficult circumstances of life.
The way of escape from our trials (1 Corinthians 10:13) is to trust.
So why do we throw around these cute sounding but unbiblical religious slogans?
There are several reasons for this anomaly. One is that many Christians are unfamiliar with the Bible and if something sounds religious it must be right. While that may be true of some Christians, I don’t think it’s true of the majority of evangelical Christians (the majority of my audience).
Another reason for our religious clichés is that it makes us feel better about God. Our mental image of God is that of a grandfatherly figure who will always act in kind, loving ways toward His children.
It’s true that God always acts in kind and loving ways toward us, but only when you understand that trials and suffering (and yes, even discipline see Hebrews 12:5-6) are included in His acts of kindness and love.
Giving you more than you can handle is not an unkind act, it’s an act of love.
A third reason that we express our faith in religious sounding clichés that don’t reflect Biblical truth – and I think this is more often the case than we would like to admit – is because we’re trying to protect God. And if anyone demeans Him, we do what we can to protect Him and His reputation.
After all God needs someone to protect His image. Not.
God is more concerned about making you like Jesus than He is about what people think about Him. So He’ll load your plate if He needs to without worrying about His reputation.
Here are my two take-a-ways from all of this.
1. God doesn’t need us to protect Him. Anyone who would blame God for being unfair, unkind or unloving doesn’t know God. And no cute sounding religious saying is going to change their minds.
2. We need to be Biblical in our expressions and beliefs. Just because something sounds like something God would do doesn’t mean that it is.
Stay in the Word