If you’ve been around the church for any length of time you’ve probably heard it said, “God will not put more on you than you can handle [bear].” This is something people say when they’re trying to encourage each other in hard times. The problem with this statement is that it’s not true. This notion that God won’t allow us to suffer more than we can handle, comes from a misunderstanding of a couple of things.

  1. Context
  2. Character of God

Whenever we read the Bible, we need to take into consideration several elements. Today, I’m going to take a look at context and character. Let’s look at the verse behind the notion that God won’t put more on us than we can bear.

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.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

This verse falls within Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Therefore, we know it was written to the church at Corinth. Let’s consider the text around the verse.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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, e he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:11-14 (NIV)

Verse 10 refers to “these things.” What are these things? This chapter starts out with Paul talking about Israel’s past sins. He points out that they all had basically the same teaching and opportunity to serve God (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). However, many of them still failed to please God and died in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5). Paul tells us they failed to please God because they “set their hearts on evil things” (1 Corinthians 10:6). They committed idolatry, participated in sexual immorality, and tested the Lord. Therefore, many of them were put to death (1 Corinthians 10:7-10).

These things, then, are referring to the consequences of sin. They died from them. They died from setting their hearts on evil things. Hence, Paul’s warning, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV) What does standing firm mean?

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

We need to check ourselves and evaluate ourselves, not in our own understanding but through prayer to God. We need to make sure we’re not setting our hearts on evil things.

Now we can examine the idea that God doesn’t put more on us than we can handle. I think the Amplified version of the Bible will help us gain a better understanding of this verse.

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance], but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].

1 Corinthians 10:13 (AMP)

It’s important to note that the Greek word for temptation, peirasmos, can also mean trial or test. Most English translations use temptation, which is interesting since it’s usually during our trials and tribulations, not what we perceive as temptations, where we hear the misinterpretation of this verse.

What we can glean from this verse then is as follows.

  1. Our trials and temptations are not special to us. Everyone has gone through these things.
  2. God is faithful.
  3. With every temptation or trial that comes our way a way to get out of it will also come.
  4. Because of the way out we’ll be able to endure it.

We’ve gone through the context of this verse as it fits within the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. We could go on further and examine it within the context of the entire letter and then the Bible. When we consider the character of God, we’re doing so from what we know of Him in the Bible. Therefore, we are considering it (the Bible) as context for evaluating the character of God and how it relates to the notion that He’ll not put more on us than we can bear.

All throughout the Bible, the Lord tells us He’s the one to bear our burdens, and we’re to give our problems to Him (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 81:6-7). We’re told to not lean on our own understanding but to trust God in all things (Proverbs 3:5-6). We’ve already covered the idea, as well, that our ways seem right to us, but they lead to death. Therefore, does it make any sense to believe that God would put the entire burden of delivering us from our trials and temptations on ourselves?

If we could save ourselves, what need would we have for God? It goes against the character of God, therefore, to believe that He would not allow us to go through more than we can bear on our own. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). This is another verse people misunderstand. Paul has given his list of trials and such that he’s gone through. He has been able to endure them all because of Christ. This is what we are promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13. We will be able to endure any trial or temptation that comes our way.

Sometimes when we are in error about Scripture we’re in error within the context and not within the character of God. A verse may be quoted, not for context, but for the application that fits within the context of the character of God. Here are two examples.

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.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11 is part of a letter written to the Jews exiled in Babylon. It’s a word from the Lord telling them that they’re going to be delivered from exile. It’s also telling them that God plans to prosper them, not hurt them, and has hopeful plans for their future. There’s nothing in these promises that don’t apply to God and His character for the Believer today. Does God not want His people to prosper? How about harm? God has no desire or plans to harm us. Hope? In Him, we have hope for He is our only hope. Future? A glorious future with Him!

Jeremiah 29:11 was written to the Jews in exile. However, the promises within align with the character of God and the context of the Bible so they are for us.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

When Peter wrote this letter to the church they were under heavy persecution and the people were wondering, as people sometimes do, “Where is God?” Some thought God wasn’t going to do what He said He was going to do. We like things done in our time. God does things in His own perfect time. When people do unjust things we want to see God’s wrath upon them now. Instead, God is patient and loving. Jesus will come again in God’s time. Peter writes:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

2 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Therefore, this letter was written to Christians, not unbelievers, as some might think. However, it is within the character of God that none would perish but come to repentance. The Lord said to Ezekiel, “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?'” (Ezekiel 33:11 NIV). Furthermore, why rejoice over the one sinner who repents if delight is found in his death? (Luke 15:7) Finally, we can see God’s heart for the world by sending Jesus to die for it (John 3:16).

There can be only one interpretation from Scripture but many applications as long as they fit within the character of God. I’ve found that I’ve gained a better understanding of God and His character, by reading the Bible, praying, and walking with Him day by day. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I find it exciting! Have a blessed day!

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.