We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most…
1. “It was a God thing.”
We say this to give God credit for something He has done and to deflect any attention from ourselves. The problem, however, is that biblically no single event is ever a “God thing”. Rather, all things are by Him, through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-20). To say something was a “God thing” seems to draw lines of distinction between what God is and is not involved in that Scripture itself does not draw. I rarely hear anyone use this phrase when speaking of a particularly difficult or trying or devastating circumstance. We generally apply it only to the victories. The truth is, all of those are His things.
2. “God showed up in the end.”
We say this to put the power of God on display – to show that His will was accomplished and He came out victorious. The problem, however, is that it represents pretty narrow thinking on our part. The truth is that God doesn’t just show up for us in the end – He walks with us from the very beginning. Faith doesn’t just celebrate the outcomes of God’s involvement in our issues, it learns to see and savor His presence in the midst of them. It demands we trust Him in the process, no matter the outcome, believing that whatever He may allow to unfold He has both orchestrated from the beginning and planned to be glorified through in the end.
3. “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
We say this to encourage people who are going through difficult circumstances and to ensure them they are strong enough to handle it. The problem, however, is that this passage (1 Corinthians 10:13) actually teaches there will be times we find ourselves in situations we can’t handle and that in those times the only way out is through Him.God’s intent in this is never to push us away from Him but always to pull us into greater depths of intimacy with Him, so that we might know on an entirely new level that His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
4. “Where two or more are gathered…”
We say this to reassure ourselves that God hears our prayers or to justify why we don’t attend church. The misapplications are endless. Examples: Where two or more are gathered...there’s Church, or God will agree with us in prayer, or the Holy Spirit is among us. The context of this passage (Matthew 18:20) depicts the appropriate measures to be taken in administering church discipline – it s not a description of Sunday’s service or Wednesday night’s prayer meeting. It’s true that God is among us – always (see #2). It’s also true that Church is more than just a few people hanging out, and God can still be with you if you are all alone.
5. “The Bible says don’t judge.”
We say this for obvious reasons – we don’t want anyone to call us out. The problem, however, is that Jesus never says don’t hold each other in the Body of Christ accountable to truth and righteousness and holiness – He actually commands that we do, but with humility and integrity (Matthew 7:1-5). We tend to have it backwards (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-13) – we point fingers at “those sinners” outside the Church but excuse and brush under the rug the sins within. We have a responsibility to call the speck out of our brothers’ and sister’s eyes – this is love; but not to the detriment of recognizing the log in our own – this is integrity. Let’s not hide our sin behind the misapplication of this statement and miss out on the grace God wants to show us through it.