Monday, February 6, 2012

Things That Sound True…But Aren’t

A delightful sign at Cullaby Lake
Modern proverbs are everywhere. We hear them all the time and may not give them a second thought. People may not preface them anymore with “Confucius say…” but they still carry an aura of the profound about them. We often nod and agree, because they sound wise.        

I love proverbs because they’re clever, to the point, and easy to remember. They can be poetic, humorous, and wise; they can be easy to grip handles on important truths. However, they can also be based on worldly wisdom instead of God’s truth.

Here are two I’ve heard a lot the last couple of years:

·         Everything happens for a reason
·         God won’t give me anything I can’t handle

Both of these sound true, but if you hold them up to scripture, they don’t line up. Take the first one. Is there a reason for murder, rape, abuse, and atrocities men have committed against each other? Is there a purpose for cruel words, greed, and selfishness? No, these things happen because we are sinners living in a sinful world. However, they can be redeemed by our loving, heavenly Father.

He alone brings good out of the tragic and the heart shattering hurts of life. He creates beauty from ashes. When we release our grip on bitterness and revenge, He can use even the most ridiculous situations for good – for us and others.

As for the second proverb – of course God gives us things we can’t handle! If we could handle everything why would we need Him? What the Bible actually says is that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle, but instead, will show us an escape route so we can get away (1 Cor. 10:13).

God designed us to need Him. He takes pleasure in our dependence and waits for us to ask for help so He can pour His love on us. Whether we’re lacking patience, love, wisdom, forgiveness, energy, hope, or something else – He can handle it.

So how can we tell if a proverb is true? Compare it to the written Word of God. Apostle Paul praised the people he preached to in Berea, because instead of gulping down everything he said about Jesus, they checked it against scripture first (Acts 17:11). We’re supposed to do the same.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NIV). Or, as the Living Translation says:”Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” What sounds clever may not be true.

If you stay on the alert you’ll hear empty philosophy gushing from television, advertisements, people, and maybe even your own lips. When you do, run to the Bible and fill up with a dose of genuine wisdom. Then hold on to it for all you’re worth.


  1. I agree. These sayings are Christian cliches with no content or biblical truth to back them up. Makes me want to growl.