I read something this morning that disturbed me. It happens all the time when I see someone quote “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19.26) The reason I get upset isn’t because anything is not possible for God, because EVERYTHING is possible for God. I get upset because we rarely keep the context of the original quote.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19.23-26)
The context is always important. This passage is a response to the rich man being told to sell everything he owned if he wanted to be perfect. He left with his possessions rather than following Christ. Christ was not implying that we humans can do anything we want just by invoking God, but that is exactly what it seems people expect when they quote this passage.
The reason this bothers me so much is that every time we lie to people about who God is, or what He wants for us, or how He interacts with humanity, we risk sending people away from God rather than drawing them to Him. The rich man left because he loved his riches more than he loved God. When we lie about what God is “willing to do” for us, then when we don’t get what we expect, we blame God. I see it often.
“Why didn’t God help me?” “Why didn’t God heal my mother?” Why…why…why? These are all good questions IF they lead us to Christ. If they lead us to our selfishness, they hurt our soul. The “Big Lie” goes back to childhood when we tell our children, “You can be anything you want.” It simply isn’t true. We can’t do or be anything JUST because we follow up our desire with, “With God everything is possible.”
It is better to teach our young people, “You can be anything that God wants you to be,” or “You can do anything God wants you to do.” Then we follow up that teaching with a solid prayer life that encourages us to pray for God’s will rather than our own will. Everything is in fact possible if God desires it.
Let’s set the record straight about this passage. The context is salvation! When it comes to doing what is necessary for salvation, everything is possible with God. Beyond salvation, something are possible and others are not.