One of the verses we often use to ‘comfort’ each other is the famous line from 1 Corinthians 10 that says ‘he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability’. Further if tempted… ‘he will also provide the way of escape’.
I put the word comfort in quotes because it’s rarely accomplished. When the devil is beating you down, does this ancient quotation make you feel any better?
I call this verse a Just-Them verse. It never really helps to hear it but we can’t stop saying it to them. It’s almost like it makes us feel better… like we are really in there helping someone in need. But what I think happens most often is our judgemental side starts to show.
Here is the condensed version: “I’m tempted to steal while times are tough”. “If you steal, its a sin because God gave you the ability to resist AND a way out!”. Please understand that even if you don’t mean it that way, there is a high probability it still gets received that way.
The problem with temptation is that it appeals to each of us differently. In the shortest terms, the devil is epic good at tuning his whispers directly to our situations and personalities. So we develop this sense of understanding towards our own needs…. but we don’t forget that scripture for Just-Them. They have a way out. They have a God given ability to resist.
But for me… They don’t understand what I’m going through. My pain is different. My struggle is real. My situation is worse. I had no way out. I had no option. We may even claim abandonment in our struggles. These verses of ‘comfort’ are just for them. They could do better, but I have no choice.
We can fall into this trap for at least two different reasons. The first is something we need to work on as a society. This is the result of handing out trophies and certifications and helping everyone to feel special. While we all are, especially in God’s eyes, we aren’t encouraging unique self appreciation in healthy ways.
If we only teach that everyone is special we set up future generations for this type of self pity and outward judgement. A healthy, God’s-eye-view, mixed with reality will go a long way. Which brings me to the second thing we can do.
We can stop skipping the verse that comes right before the ones I pointed out above. Verse 13. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” That hurt, that massive pain, that thing that no one could possibly understand or even begin to imagine… yeah, we are all going through it. The names may change, the details may skew over time, but temptation… all of it, is common.
Not only should that help us put ourselves in the correct perspective between God and us and the rest of us and us… but it shows how diligent the devil really is. He works so hard at ruining and condemning your life, that every single soul in the world has experienced the same level of torment.
What if instead of judging each other, we were there for each other, helping each other overcome the many schemes that are dealt out to ALL of us? We may have resisted one sin someone else didn’t, but we neglected to find the way out on others that they did. We can’t pick and choose which passages are for which people. If the judgement is just for them, so is the reward. I’m beginning to think of ‘them’ as a bad word.
Only God can use it accurately. He is the only one without sin. When we use it, we use it selectively to divide. Them that failed. Them that look different. Them who speak different. Them who score lower. From our point of view, it should be about us. The Bible is for us. Jesus came to save us. This passage of hope is about and for us. We are God’s creation. And, in two things, we are certainly equal. God’s love for us and Satan’s desire to drag us kicking and screaming to hell.
That is another ‘us’. The enemy wants us. All of us. Equally. His attempts to drive us away from the love of God is common. It is something we have all experienced. And it is something that we can all help each other with based on first hand experience.