challenging Bible verses

There’s a lot of “take it or leave it” in life. When my grocery store sends me coupons, I clip the ones I want and toss the rest. At the salad bar, I can pile on the mushrooms and skip the chickpeas. But God doesn’t give us a “take it or leave it” option with His Word. We can’t accept what we like and reject the rest. We can’t embrace the easy stuff and ignore the hard.

Every book of the Bible has value for our lives today. Even Leviticus. Every passage, no matter how controversial in our culture or hard to understand is still relevant. In his article “How to Read Hard Bible Passages,” Kurt Buhr wrote:

“I have to admit, some parts of the Bible are tricky to understand and much easier to simply skip past–or cut out… But if we align with Paul’s instructions that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), then we must resist the urge to grab our kitchen shears…”

What’s true for hard-to-understand passages is also true for challenging Bible verses. I mean, some verses in the Bible are easier to swallow than others. Even though I wholeheartedly believe them all, there are some I honestly just don’t like very much. In fact, some Bible verses feel too demanding.

Let me explain.

Some verses, like “He gives strength to the weary…” and “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine…” cause me to throw my arms open wide and yell “Bring it on, Lord!”

But others cause me to sigh and take a deep breath and think, “Really? Isn’t that kind of difficult?”

Five Challenging Bible Verses that I Want to Embrace

Below are 5 verses that I find really challenging to fully embrace and live out every day. Oh, there are others too – and I may have a slightly different top 5 tomorrow – but these will definitely stay in at least the top 10 for the indefinite future.

  1. Matthew 6:33 – I really like the last half of this verse about God supplying my needs, oh yes! But when we read the whole thing in the context of the passage, we see the primary topic is worry. Jesus said we spend too much time and energy worrying about our needs. We allow worry to keep us from pursuing Jesus and His Kingdom. The challenge: To turn off the worry and turn to Jesus. Or better yet, turn to Jesus to turn off the worry!
  2. James 1:2 – James doesn’t waste any time with small talk in his letter. Essentially he says, “Dear Jewish believers, be full of joy when life punches you in the gut.” (My paraphrase of course.) Sounds unrealistic right? James says we can be joyful in spite of our circumstances because we know God plans to use them for our spiritual good and for His purposes. The challenge: To keep our eyes on the spiritual and eternal rather than the physical and temporary.
  3. Romans 12:2 – God wants us to be like Jesus, not like the world around us. But truly, it’s a daily battle. Our culture constantly bombards us with values and behavior that is contrary to the character of Christ. (See also “What are You Feeding Your Mind.“) The challenge: To strap on that spiritual armor, refuse to compromise, and yield ourselves to the Spirit’s transforming power. (See also “The Armor of God is More than a Prayer.“)
  4. John 15:12 – Okay, let’s be honest. Sometimes our fellow believers aren’t easy to love. Plus, did you notice that Jesus said we should love each other “as I have loved you.” Well, Jesus gave His life for us, so this is really extreme. He wants us to be willing to die for each other. To put others’ needs ahead of our own. To honor others over ourselves. The challenge: To take off pride and selfishness and put on humility and selflessness in order to genuinely love others.
  5. Galatians 2:20 – Wait a minute. My life isn’t my life? Nope. Jesus purchased my life on the cross and it’s His to do with as He sees fit. But if I can remember this, the previous 4 challenging verses suddenly get a lot easy to live out. The challenge: To consciously choose every minute of every day to give my life to Jesus.

Jesus’ way may seem challenging. But the reality is, He only wants what’s best for us. His way is abundant and satisfying and joyful. His way is life.

Please feel free to disagree with my list. Or add to it! What Bible verses would you add to the “challenging Bible verses” list and why?

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