As a Christian, I often find myself hanging out in Christian circles.  However unfortunate that may be, that is the culture of contemporary Christianity.  Many of my best friends are people that I go to church with, used to go to church with, or have crossed paths with through ministry events.

My involvement in Christian circles explains a lot about how I spend my time, the fact that I often speak Christian-ese, and the burden that I feel for not being a friend of sinners.  However, there is one thing that it does not explain.  Why do I hear people misquoting the Bible so often?

There are certain phrases that people spout off at their convenience assuming that they are straight from the Bible.  I suppose they heard it from somebody else that told them it is in the Bible.  But since most of us are too trusting to question what we hear, we assume these phrases must be straight from the Word.  Here are a few of the ones I hear the most:

1.  God won’t give you more than you can handle– I hear this all the time, mostly from people that are entering a trial that they know will be challenging.  I suppose it is more wishful thinking than anything.  It is actually a somewhat warped understanding of 1 Corinthians 13:10, a passage that tells us God will never let us be tempted without a way out.  If we aren’t careful, this phrase can compromise our understanding of who God really is.

2.  God helps those that help themselves. – Also an optimistic viewpoint, it seems this idea may have been manufactured to help with motivation at some point.  Surely being told that God will bless you if you work hard would put a little skip in your step, right?  However, this idea did not come from any of our beloved Bible scribes, but from none other than Benjamin Franklin.  Perhaps that lightning did a little more damage than we thought, cause this concept actually contradicts many of the Bible’s teachings.

3.  God works in mysterious ways. – I hear this one a lot, and I actually agree with it for the most part.  God’s plan is a mystery to us because we are not capable of understanding it.  Thus, the things He does toward carrying out His plans are often incomprehensible to us.  We aren’t meant to understand everything about God, and that is okay.  William Cowper was spot-on when he coined the original form of this phrase in his hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way.  Yet, you won’t find it in any translation of the Holy Bible.

4.  God blesses the bald above all others. – You got me.  That is not something I hear a lot of people say.  However, I have some pretty solid anecdotal evidence to support this one.  Besides, this phrase is in the Bible about as much as the others.  So whaddayasay we work it into a Christian rap song or something?  Awesome.

I am sure I am missing a few commonly quoted phrases that aren’t actually in the Bible.  If you can think of one, please share it in the comments below.

7/2/2012 11:54:16 pm

I like this one. Well, I like all of them, but good job, as always! I appreciated how you used two hackneyed phrases, then a reasonably read one, and of course, a funny one.
Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

Adam Carter
7/7/2012 10:27:37 am

Spare the rod spoil the child. It's not in there. Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The Hebrew word for rod in this proverb describes a scepter or staff.   A scepter was a large ornately carved staff that was a symbol of authority

Jamie Boggs
7/7/2012 10:34:00 am

Good one, Adam. Even without the Hebrew origin, this passage has to be twisted in an extreme way to end up with "spare the rod, spoil the child." Totally not Biblical.


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