Farmville Enterprise May 29, 2019
A quick Yahoo, Bing or Google search for “sayings that people often mistake as being in the Bible” could yield a list of ten or so expressions with a lot of overlap. These statements might be good or based on biblical principles, but they are not direct quotes from Scripture.
“Moderation in all things” can be a helpful motto for eating, drinking and spending but is not necessarily great when it comes to charitable giving or loving God. “The Lord works in mysterious ways” is definitely true. “This too shall pass” might give us hope but is not necessarily correct for this life. It is not accurate that “money is the root of all evil.” The Bible actually says, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
“Charity begins at home” is an idea based on several biblical teachings. While sanitation and neatness are nice, it is not true that “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Some things which appear to be clean are, in fact, far from it. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and warned them that the condition of their hearts was much more important than outward appearances. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
An often-quoted statement taken from an idea in Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac is that “God helps those who help themselves.” If we say that God only helps those who help themselves we are disputing Scripture and promoting a false sense of God. The Bible is full of accounts of helpless people whom the Lord lifted out of situations that looked hopeless. Jesus died on the cross and rose again precisely because we could not help ourselves to heaven. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Through our own efforts we could not rectify our sinful condition. Christian faith is not about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. It is about a loving, gracious and merciful God who seeks us when we are at our worst and when our best efforts fall pitifully short.
Another potentially damaging saying is that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Perhaps this is a modification of 1 Corinthians 10: 13 which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. 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 endure it.” For someone going through a tragedy or a horribly difficult situation this saying puts the onus on them to buck up enough strength or determination to get through the struggle. Obviously, there are many fine people who face depression or hit rock bottom and find it impossible to conjure up enough hope to see light at the end of the tunnel. It is okay for people to feel that it is beyond their ability to handle a crisis alone. The apostle Paul’s experience was that his inability made him rely on God all the more.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) As Paul attests, God might give us more than we can handle.