A Few Bible Verses That Christians Get Wrong

The Bible is the most important book ever written. The one true God chose to reveal Himself to us through the written word. Amazing and humbling!

Yet sometimes we get it wrong. We misunderstand or misapply the truth God has given us. Although there are countless causes, through my experience I’ve seen two primary problems crop up again and again.

Perspective – Too often we read God’s Word with our own purposes and goals in mind. But the Bible is all about God. When we read it with His eternal purposes in mind, we will better grasp the truth of His Word.

Context – The Bible may have unlimited applications, but its meaning never changes. It means the same today as it did when it was written. To understand the original meaning, we must pull back and understand the context – of the passage, of the chapter, of the book.

Here are 10 verses that are often misunderstood due to perspective, context, or both:

  1. Corinthians 10:13

“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.”

Many Christians claim this verse as a “promise” that God will never allow them to experience more difficulties than “they can handle.” Yet, the larger passage (1 Corinthians 10:1-13) deals with temptation and our ability to withstand it. God promises He will always provide a way for us to say “no” to temptation. In fact, Paul learned by experience that God will allow us to face circumstances “beyond our ability to endure” so that we will learn to rely on Him (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

  1. Proverbs 22:6

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Misunderstanding Proverbs 22:6 as a promise has led to grief for many parents. The book of Proverbs is wisdom literature, which offers general principles for successful living. A proverb is not a promise. Instead, let us use it as a tool for wise parenting and decision-making, and entrust our children to our faithful God!

  1. Matthew 7:1

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Is all “judging” wrong? Jesus did condemn a harsh, critical “judging” motivated by a self-righteous, hypocritical attitude. But in the whole of Scripture, God clearly commands Christians to lovingly point out sin and exhort each other to holiness. It is not our place to determine their motives, but it is our responsibility to gently identify behavior God has already judged to be “sin.” The goal is to reconcile that person with God and others and to keep the sin from spreading (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 5:19-20).

  1. Psalm 37:4

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

If I find joy in God, will He fill my life with all the things I value and enjoy? Wait – remember context and focus. In this psalm, David contemplated the age-old question of why evil people seem to prosper while the righteous often struggle. David wrote to encourage his readers – and us – to widen our perspective, to live in light of eternity and to set our hope in God’s everlasting purposes. When we commit ourselves (delight) to God’s capable hands, our desire for the righteous to prevail will be realized in His timing.

  1. James 1:2-3

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

We would think that James meant we could find joy in Christ in spite of our trials. That makes more sense! Yet, James really did say – and mean – because of our trials. While God cares very much about our physical circumstances, James knew He uses trials to refine our faith and make us more like Jesus. That is something to rejoice about!

  1. Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Considering just this verse, we might believe that Jesus is with us only when we are with other believers. But the context of the larger passage is church discipline. When another believer sins, if he will not listen to one, two or three fellow believers should bring the matter to the church (Matthew 18:15-20).

  1. Romans 8:28

“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.”

Does God control all the circumstances of our lives to make things turn out great for us? Let’s take a step back to grasp the glorious truth of Romans 8:28. First, this promise is not for all people, just Christians who love and follow Jesus. Second, in the larger context, (Romans 8:18-39), Paul reminds us that although we must temporarily endure earthly suffering, God works through it to continuously work out His greater, eternal plan for us (Romans 8:28-30). The “good” God is working towards is not temporary, earthly “success,” but the eternal purpose of us being “conformed to the likeness” of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

  1. Habakkuk 1:5

“Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

If we read this verse by itself, we might believe God is going to do something wonderful and glorious before our eyes. Well, He definitely did, but probably not what you’d expect. God sent the prophet Habakkuk to pronounce judgment on Judah for turning away from God. The amazing thing God planned was to send the brutal nation of Babylon to conquer His people and carry them into captivity. This verse should stand as a strong reminder that God does discipline His children.

  1. Jeremiah 29:11

“‘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.’”

This verse is definitely a promise. But it’s a promise for a particular people in a particular time. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised that after Judah’s pre-determined exile in Babylon, He would bring them back to the Promised Land. We often misappropriate promises. And while God does make a lot of promises to all believers, this particular promise isn’t one of them.

  1. Philippians 4:13

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 is probably the most misused verse in the Bible. We pull it out of the surrounding passage and hold it out as God’s obligation to empower our plans and dreams. Yet, Paul was writing about being content no matter his earthly circumstances. He could endure any difficulty or physical need through the strengthening power of Christ. Oh yes, Philippians 4:13 is a great promise indeed! Jesus will give us the strength we need to endure desperate need. His empowering presence will be with us through every difficult circumstance.

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Pray for Strength and Rejoice in Hope: Seven Prayers for Hope

May these prayers for hope encourage your heart, soul, and mind!

A Prayer for Hope
Lord, help me to hear you saying, “I am your hope” over all the other voices. Lord, your word says, you are the hope for hopeless so I’m running to you with both hands stretched out and grabbing on to you. Fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that hope is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline (Hebrews 6:19-20). God, you know those things in my heart that I barely dare to hope for, today I give them to you, I trust them to you, and ask that you because I know that you can do more than I could ever guess, imagine or request in wildest dreams (Eph 3:20). God, you are my hope and I trust you. Amen.

The Lord Bless You with Hope
May the Lord show you the greatness of his goodness, that you overflow with thanks every day. May the Lord bless you abundantly with rest for the heart, power for virtue, wisdom for life, and patience in suffering. May the Lord bless you with joyful hope, and one day with the inexpressible joys of eternal life.

Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Love
Almighty Lord God, give us true faith, and make that faith grow in us day by day. Also give us hope and love, so that we may serve our neighbors according to your will; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for Hope
Heavenly Father, I am your humble servant, I come before you today in need of hope. There are times when I fell helpless, There are times when I feel weak. I pray for hope. I need hope for a better future. I need hope for a better life. I need hope for love and kindness. Some say that the sky is at it’s darkest just before the light. I pray that this is true, for all seems dark. I need your light, Lord, in every way. I pray to be filled with your light from head to toe. To bask in your glory. To know that all is right in the world, as you have planned, and as you want it to be. Help me to walk in your light, and live my life in faith and glory. In your name, I pray, Amen.

My Hope and Refuge
Ah, Lord God, Holy Lover of my soul, when you come into my soul, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my trouble. Set me free from all evil passions, and heal my heart of all inordinate affections, cure and cleanse me within, that I may be made fit to love, courageous to suffer, steady to persevere. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing fuller nor better in heaven and earth; because love is born of God, and cannot rest but in God, above all created things. Let me love you more than myself, and love myself except for you, and in you all that truly love you, as the law of love commands, shining out from yourself. Source: Thomas à Kempis

Hope in God’s Promise
O Father in heaven, look upon all your people who struggle with anger, anxiety, doubt, frustration, guilt, hopelessness, loss, memories, lack of patience, pain, regret, sadness, selfishness, temptation and weakness. Your Holy Word tells us “All things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” And that means that you make all these things work for your good purpose in our lives, even when we do not understand. Remind us of your invitation, “Cast all your cares upon me,” and of your assurance that goes with it, “because I care for you.” …through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Hope Today
Lord, help me to hear you saying, “I am your hope” over all the other voices. Lord, your word says, you are the hope for hopeless so I’m running to you with both hands stretched out and grabbing on to you. Fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that hope is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline (Hebrews 6:19-20). God, you know those things in my heart that I barely dare to hope for, today I give them to you, I trust them to you, and ask that you because I know that you can do more than I could ever guess, imagine or request in wildest dreams (Eph 3:20). God, you are my hope and I trust you. Amen.

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Reasons Why God Is Working Behind the Scenes

Where is God and what is He doing? I know that question. I’ve often asked Him in the middle of the night or when I’m really stressed. What I didn’t realize was how God is always at work behind the scenes. Even when you can’t see Him. Sense Him. Hear Him.

Are you going through a difficult season? Maybe it’s a hormonal teenager, or maybe you’ve hit a rut in your marriage. Maybe it’s something in your financial life? No matter what it is, you feel like your life is a frozen field on a cold winter day. You peek out the windows at first light to see that it is still dark, and a blanket of snow still covers the ground. Life looks dreary, cold, dead, and bleak.

5 Reasons God Is Working Behind the Scenes in Our Lives

  1. He is revealing His will. He desires to have fellowship with us; that’s why we were created. He wants us to look to Him for today and the future even if we don’t understand what He is doing but He will show us the way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9

  1. He is revealing His purpose. Sometimes we pray and fast, and think we’ve made the right decision, only to have everything fall apart around us. The job didn’t pan out, the diagnosis came back worse than expected, or the answer is no. But we can trust He is working behind the scenes as He works out His purpose—one day at a time.

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

  1. He is teaching us how to walk in faith. Have you ever seen a mom scold her baby for falling after taking a few steps? Of course not! She kisses his boo-boos, steadies her child, and encourages him to walk again. This is how our Abba Father works on our behalf to build our faith. Especially when He leads us to unknown places. Especially when we are grappling in the dark. And especially when we grapple with how to walk in faith that he will work all things together for our good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

  1. He is building your confidence. It’s hard to depend on God when we are used to relying on ourselves. But the Bible teaches how to build confidence in God, not ourselves. The Scriptures give us a picture of what it will look like when we genuinely develop confidence in God. His Word reveals that no matter what tomorrow holds, He is still holding us steady in His plans for His purpose.

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3,4

  1. He is instilling hope. Hope is the heartbeat of God’s promises. He helps us rise in the middle of our circumstances. No matter the situation, God wants you to hope anyway.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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Bible Quotes For Hope

1 Peter 1:3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

Ephesians 1:18
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”

Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hebrews 10:23
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Psalm 130:5
“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

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