It can be one of the most frustrating words, pulling the carpet from beneath our feet. “You would be a great addition to our team, but the position has already been filled.”
At the same time, “but” can be life-saving and world-changing when following negative statements. It can save the day. It can turn the tide. It can lift up the downcast. It can restore hope. “But” can also send us in a new and better direction when we’ve been headed down a wrong path.
The Scriptures are filled with a wide range of “but” passages. Some speak of what we’ve done wrong and how God has mercifully acted in response. But not only has God done what is the opposite of what we deserve, he has opened up for us a different way of living in response to what he has done on our behalf.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been save. [Ephesians 2:1,4,5]
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [John 3:17]
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. [Isaiah 53:5]
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [Hebrews 4:15-16]
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Galatians 2:20]
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [Phil. 4:6]
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. [Rom. 12:2]
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [Gal. 5:22-23; in contrast to the deeds of the flesh]
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. [Isaiah 40:29-31]
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [Matthew 6:33; in contrast to being anxious about the things we need]
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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]
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. [2 Cor. 12:9; when explaining why a “thorn in the flesh” will not be removed]
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [Acts 1:8; just prior to Jesus leaving and ascending to the Father]
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. [2 Tim. 1:7]
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. [Hebrews 10:25]
This is just a sample of the “buts” in the Bible. Keep your eyes open for more as you read.