I have a question regarding practical Christianity in light of these verses:

For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (‭Romans‬ ‭9‬:‭15-16‬)         He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)    Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭30‬:‭8-9‬ )

We know The Lord does give jobs, marriages, healthy environments to some people, both Christians and non Christians and these situations seem to correlate at least to some extent with more stable morals and less crime rate or health concerns.  But what is expected of those who have been unemployed for several years and unable to support his family or find a wife?  Basically, what I am asking is: what if we do not have God’s mercy, His compassion, His favor, or a way to support ourselves?  Would The Lord then approve or at least understand that we need to do what we can to survive/ fulfill natural urges/ respond accordingly to these circumstances ( such as with stealing ,prostitution, anorexia, suicide )?   So as Christians, is there some type of contextual standard that God takes into account as He is the one that places us in these different environments?  Does a pastor and his middle class American family have a higher expectation to act according to the Bible than a poor orphan in a 3rd world country who needs to steal?  These hypothetical verses have been slightly confusing. Thank you for any thoughts.


I am not in a place to judge such things. I think the best approach you can take is simply to rely on God and leave it at that. Either we believe that God is in control or we do not. Either we trust God to be our salvation or we do not. Either we believe Romans 8:28 (“in all things God works for the good of those who love him”) or we do not.

Here is my bottom line answer. Absolutely NOT! There is never any excuse for willfully sinning. No Christian, despite the circumstances, ought to justify stealing, prostitution or suicide, divorce or any other sin based on “I could not help it.” Like God said, “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 stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13). It is a very dangerous slippery slope for a Christian to say in his or her heart, “I am justified in this sin because of this or that.” God certainly does not see things that way.

Now, is it possible that God, in his wisdom and mercy, will judge one person less strictly than another because of the difficulty of their situation? Might God judge the starving person who steals food to survive less strictly than a rich American who shoplifts to have a nicer shirt? I believe that it is entirely possible that God would do so. I believe that God is just and that he will weigh each person’s actions in light of their circumstances. Common sense tells us that God will view the two differently, but this may well be human wisdom and I would prefer to leave such decisions in God’s hands.

But, having said that, no I absolutely will not agree that we can justify sin based on circumstances. Anyone who loves God, who believes that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6) will do everything possible to avoid sin of every kind. They will never justify sin because they could not help it. God is just and we can rely on his justice, but no one should use his mercy as an excuse to sin (Romans 6:1).

John Oakes


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