Without a doubt there are plenty of cringe worthy things that come from the mouths of well-meaning and good intentioned friends and family that if they paused, for even just a moment, would probably have never had said it.The same goes for Christians. There are plenty of Christians, me being one of them, that say or have said things to other Christians, and even worse said them to people that aren’t, that if said to them, would make them want to fight the person saying it. “Just give it to Jesus” is one of those things.
It isn’t that the person saying it doesn’t care what you’re going through, they do, but they may not know any other way to help. This has got to be one of the most misused and abused Christian phrases ever uttered by well-meaning Jesus followers. Unfortunately I’ve been on both ends of this misguided attempt to provide “wise council”. Somewhere along the way Christians turned King David’s song lyrics and Peter’s encouraging reminder into a witty, solve all, catch phrase that has often caused more frustration than help. Here’s three reasons why it isn’t exactly helpful.
1. It isn’t Biblical.
We’ll at least the way that we’ve interpreted it isn’t. As I already mentioned, “Just give it to Jesus” most closely comes from David in Psalm 55:22 and Peter’s reiteration of it in 1Peter 5:7. The verse tells us to cast our burdens or, when Peter says it, anxieties on God. The problem isn’t with the word “cast”, that actually means “give” or “toss”. The issue is with the words “burden” and “anxiety”. People have taken these to mean any problems or negative circumstances that we experience, but what these words refer to isn’t that simple.
Each word means something far deeper. The original Hebrew translation of ‘burden” is actually “gift”. That’s a bit unexpected. In this case “gift” can mean affliction, trials, and troubles, but it can also mean things that are agreeable and pleasing to us. While that may be confusing, the purpose of why David says this is far more important and clear. David is telling us that no matter our portion from God, we “commit [it] to His custody, and use to His glory; and particularly commit the keeping of thy soul to Him.” It’s about our ability to trust God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises to us. Likewise, the word “anxieties” doesn’t mean that you aren’t concerned for our circumstances, but is about letting circumstance divide our heart between God and anything else. In those cases, we are to give over those things to God so that our heart would not be divided and we are not drawn from Him who sustains us. It isn’t always easy or clear how to do this, so at the end I’ll talk about that a bit more.
I know what you’re thinking, if “Give it to Jesus” isn’t exactly biblical, what is? In Galatians 6, Paul tells us how we are to respond to other’s burdens, so that we would honor Jesus. He says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The appropriate response to a brother or sister’s heavy burden is that you bear it with them. While Paul was in prison and in dire circumstance, he continued to have hope and comfort in Christ, but he still asked for people, like Timothy, to come be with him. He still needed the comfort and encouragement of fellow believers to help bear the burden. While it may be hard to carry your burden by yourself, it becomes easier and easier with the more people who help carry it.
“Bearing other’s burdens is often far easier than bearing our own.” Tweet this!
2. It’s Dismissive.
It really is. It’s like asking someone, in passing, “Hey, how ya doing?” and they aren’t quite with the program so they offer more than the standard, “Good” or “Busy”, and actually tell you how they are doing and it isn’t all good. All of the sudden you’re left standing there, with no idea what to say, so you go to the other standard Christian “deflect and evade” counter-measure, “That’s tough, bro. I’ll pray for you.” While you might believe that they actually need someone to pray for them, you only say it as a means to indicate to the other person that you don’t know what to say and you want to leave. Once you’re out of there, whether you actually pray for the person is a different story. When you tell someone to “Just give it to Jesus” you’re telling the person that you don’t know what to say and have nothing to offer them. It communicates loud and clear “That sucks that YOU’RE dealing with that, but I’m not and I don’t plan to.” As I mentioned in number 1, if you’re a Christian, you don’t get off that easy. If you want to honor Jesus, you have to bear their burdens with them.
3: It’s Not Tangible.
You’re not there to make the situation go away, although I would argue that real love does eliminate burden if it’s within their ability to do so, you know, Jesus’ whole “no greater love and a friend laying down his life” example. But just throwing out those four words and bouncing out isn’t very Jesus. The burden brother/sister needs comfort, wisdom, insight, encouragement, and the list goes on. You’re gifted by the God for the purpose of helping and serving others. There’s a whole list of gifts in Romans 12. Chances are you have one of them and it wasn’t given to you for your benefit. If we have the ability to lighten the burden of other’s, why are we so stingy?
It really has everything to do with our heart. If you’re seeking Jesus and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform you, your heart will change, you won’t have a choice in that. But we have to be willing to recognize that we make the decision to be like Him, because He never forces Himself on us. Sometimes, it’s a matter of not knowing how to respond to another’s difficult situation. That’s ok, but it’s not ok to never grow out of that.
“…by gently reproving them, by comforting them when over-pressed with guilt, by sympathizing with them in their sorrow, by praying to God for to manifest his pardoning grace to them, and by forgiving them themselves, so far as they are faults committed against them…”
It’s things like, praying with them in that moment, giving a word of encouragement, taking there kids for a couple of hours to let them have a moment to think, buying their groceries, making them a meal, just being with them, crying with them, hugging them… I imagine if you thought about it, you come up with better ones.
If we stopped assuming that the bible was written for other people, maybe we would be able to live it better ourselves. It wasn’t written for you to quote it to others as a means of getting out of doing life with them. Yes all scripture is “profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness and so that we may be equipped for every good work“. It exists as a means of encouraging others and as the foundation for providing wise counsel, but if we try to apply it to others’ life before we apply it to our own, it becomes lifeless and heavy.
“When we can accept that the bible is written to us first, then we can better followers of Jesus.” Tweet this!
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