Over the years I’ve collected common cultural sayings that people believe have their basis in the Bible.
1. “He (or she) is now in a much better place.” To which I ask, “How do you know that?” If someone is born again, we know exactly where they’re at but we should be careful about assuming that everyone makes it to heaven.
2. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Sorry, moms, but this verse is not in the Bible.
3. “God wants you to be healthy and wealthy.” This certainly sounds good to us Americans and is propagated from many pulpits and popularized by TV preachers but it is not found in the Bible.
4. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I hear this saying a lot but I can’t find chapter and verse for this one either. God does promise that He will provide a way out when we’re tempted in 1 Corinthians 10:13, but He never says that He’ll shield us from struggles. In fact, sometimes we can’t bear things on our own, precisely because God wants us to run to Him. The Apostle Paul often was overwhelmed according to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
5. “Money is the root of all evil.” Actually, the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the “…Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”
6. “God wants you to be happy.” I hear this one all the time. It’s often used for justification to get out of something that is right or to start doing something that is wrong. God never says he wants us to be “happy.” His heart is for us to be “holy” as stated in 1 Peter 1:15: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” Recently someone correctly pointed out that “happy” and “blessed” can mean the same thing. In that sense, God does want us to be happy, though happiness really comes out of holiness.
7. “God helps those who help themselves.” This one is commonly quoted but it’s not only extra-biblical, it’s also unbiblical. In fact, Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD” and Proverbs 28:26 states: “He who trusts in himself is a fool…” Actually, God helps those who are helpless.
The next time you hear a common saying or a popular slogan, stop and ask yourself, “Is this in the Bible?” If not, don’t give it much attention. On the other hand, when you hear Scripture, stop and ask yourself, “Am I living this way?”