There are verses that you read that you just don’t know what to do with. It isn’t that the verse doesn’t make sense…it is that you know just how difficult a demand the verse places on your life.
The answer to the question in the title will be different for each one of us. For the rich young ruler it was Jesus telling him to sell everything and give to the poor and then come follow Jesus. If he had wrestled with the idol of relationships, maybe Jesus would have asked him to address that (like in Matthew 8:21 or 19:29).
One of the more difficult verses is found in Philippians 2:1-4 where Paul wrote this,
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
How does one do that, exactly? I can attempt to do this but it is very difficult to actually pull it off 100%!
Another difficult passage is found in 1 Peter 1:13-16 where Peter wrote this,
“13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
How can we be holy as God or Jesus are holy? Well, we cannot in and of ourselves. That requires a bit of assistance!
Or, maybe like that rich man mentioned above (found in John 18) we struggle with wealth or possessions. That teaching ended with a very important verse that we all need to keep in mind when discussing difficult verses and that is John 18:26-27,
“26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
That is reassuring! There are verses that are impossible for us to fully comply with. We need help! We can’t make it on our own. To quote Paul from 2 Corinthians 12:9 God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
There are some extremely difficult verses in the Bible – difficult for us. But none of this is difficult for God! And God is willing to help us in our inability to accomplish for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves!
Praise God for His unfailing love and infinite mercy!