by Lori Hatcher
We’ve all heard them—phrases that sound wise, insightful, and biblical. But are they really? Let’s look at some common sayings, compare them to the Bible, and see if they hold up.
1. God won’t give you more than you can handle.
Yes, He most certainly will. Ask the apostle Paul, who penned these words in 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.”
Paul’s agonizing choice of words, “under great pressure,” “far beyond our ability to endure,” and “despairing even of life,” show us that the difficulties he and the other disciples experienced were well beyond their human ability to handle.
2. The devil made me do it.
This statement finds its genesis in the Garden of Eden. When Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God confronted her about it. She shifted the blame for her sin by saying, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
As much as we’d like to make Satan the scapegoat for all our bad choices, the concept just isn’t biblical. While Satan is the driving force behind much of the evil in our world today, we have our own sinful nature to blame for most of our sins. James 1:14 says, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
3. The temptation was too strong. I couldn’t resist it.
When we’re in the midst of a temptation, resistance seems impossible. Like iron filings to a strong magnet or kids to cookies, we often feel helpless and powerless. God knows the weakness of our flesh, and he gives us a promise to help us have victory over it.
First Corinthians 10:13 is one of the first verses I memorized as a new believer, and its truth has carried me through many a temptation: “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.”
Notice two important parts of this empowering verse. First, God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. This tells us we can have victory over any temptation we encounter. Nothing is too hard to resist.
4. We’re all God’s children.
People who make this statement really mean, “God created us all,” which is accurate. God is the Father of us all in the sense that he formed us and gave us life. We are not, however, all God’s children.
Because God is a relational being, until we accept his gift of eternal life by confessing and repenting of our sin, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, and surrendering our lives to him, we cannot be his children in the truest, most biblical sense of the word. We are just one of his created beings.
5. God doesn’t have favorites.
This belief originates in the biblical truth of Peter’s words in Acts 10:34, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” He said this when God called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ household. It is true that, regarding salvation, God is all-inclusive. Romans 10:13 tells us, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
It’s also true, however, that God bestows special honor to certain exceptionally faithful individuals. He called Moses and Abraham his friends. Scripture refers to Daniel as “highly esteemed” (Daniel 10:11) and Mary, the mother of Jesus, “highly favored” (Luke 1:28).
This “favoritism,” is quite different from the way we view favoritism today. While these godly men and women enjoyed close and precious relationships with the Lord, they weren’t spared the difficulties that come with being devoted followers.
6. God helps those who help themselves.
This phrase, which celebrates initiative and hard work, affirms biblical virtues. It’s important to note, however, that God is most well known for helping widows, orphans, and other needy individuals who are unable to help themselves. This brings great comfort to many who fall on hard times.
7. I’m so sorry for your loss. Heaven must have needed another angel.
This is probably the most theologically false condolence I’ve ever heard. People say it when babies and young children die, but they also use it to explain the deaths of godly adults. Those who say it have good motives. They’re trying to say, “Your loved one was too special (pure, innocent, or wonderful) for this world; God needed her in heaven instead.”
If you follow this line of thinking, however, this implies that whenever a job opening in heaven comes up, God prowls the earth looking for sweet, innocent children or godly adults to harvest for his heavenly workforce. Not only is this wrong, it’s a direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches about angels.
Think before You Speak
Well there you have it—seven phrases Christians like to say that simply aren’t true. Their popularity reminds us how important it is to think before we speak. As we become students of the Bible and gain wisdom and understanding, our speech will begin to reflect its truth. Then the words we speak will encourage others and honor God.
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).