As I visited with a lady in the hospital one night she told me that her doctors had pretty much given up on her and she was going to be sent home. She said the future did not look good. I listened as she talked about her disappointment and her anxiety. I asked if she had a church or a pastor that she could talk to when she got home. She looked at me for a minute in silence and shook her head. She said I did once but then my daughter died and several other close relatives. She said after that happened I quit going to church. I asked why she had made that decision. She said because I have always been told that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but there is no way that I can bear all of this. She said God lied to me and cheated me and I don’t want to deal with him anymore. I listened as she continued to vent her anger toward God. Finally when she looked like she was vented out, I told her I can understand why you are so angry toward God, you truly have been given more than you or anyone could bear. As I saw her relax a little I told her that actually the Bible never says that God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. She responded that that was what she was always told. I said I know, it is a common saying but it is a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which deals with temptation not suffering and loss. I told her that many times in this life we end up dealing with more than we can handle. I added though that God does promise that he will never leave us or forsake us, that he will be with us in those overwhelming circumstances. I told her that God does promise deliverance from our suffering but not necessarily in this life, sometimes deliverance is heaven. I also told her that no matter how bad things are God always loves us, and that he loved her daughter when he took her home to be with him and that he loved her and would be with her in whatever she faced after she got home. There was a lot more to the conversation but what was shocking about it is that this woman had been rejecting her faith and pushing God away because of a clique that probably another well-meaning Christian friend had fed her. This clique was taken as gospel truth and for her it turned God into an uncaring being who hated her. Simply put, false theology destroys people’s spiritual lives, false theology kills.
Unfortunately that is not the only false theological statement that is being passed around. We have all heard this one as well, “God helps those who help themselves.” It is not just people outside the church that say that but Christians within the church. This again is not in Scripture but a saying of Benjamin Franklin, who copied it from British political theorist Algernon Sidney. The saying God helps those who help themselves is the exact opposite of what Scripture teaches. Sidney and Franklin both taught it to push self-reliance and self-help, which is a good thing when it comes to this physical life, but not when it comes to our spiritual life. This again is the opposite of what Scripture teaches. When people buy into Sidney and Franklin’s ideas and attribute them to God they began to think that their salvation depends on them, that they have to do something, obey the law, work to please God. What Scripture teaches is that God helps those who finally realize that they can’t help themselves spiritually, that they are sinners who can in no way earn or justify their salvation and that they need a Savior in Jesus Christ. It is dependence upon God instead of self. This false saying when equated with Scripture can blind people to their sins and to Jesus. Again false theology destroys spiritual lives, false theology kills.
My point is this, when you are talking with someone who is hurting, or is struggling make sure what you are giving them is from real Scripture. Make sure it is not Benjamin Franklin or some twisting of Scripture. People’s eternal lives are in the balance. True comfort only comes from actual Scripture. Only in Scripture are we promised that God will always be with us. Only in Scripture do we meet Jesus who took on flesh to be with us and then died for us. Only in Scripture do we find the true hope of eternal life in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only in Scripture do we find theology that brings life. As Linus says to Lucy in an old Peanuts cartoon, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”