That wasn't Jesus, it was John Lennon.
All you need is love #Jesus
Being the smart aleck that I am I quickly responded with, "Actually, that wasn't Jesus, it was John Lennon." I didn't get a response (actually I got unfollowed), but it left me pondering.
There's no denying that we're notorious misquoters. The internet only makes it worse. We've all seen that great Abe Lincoln line: "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their validity." Now, Abe was wise, but I don't think he was omniscient.
Frustrating though it may be, I'm not terribly concerned when you twist the words of men. What concerns me is when we twist Scripture. And we do. All of us. Often.
A couple of days ago I posted a little quiz on Facebook asking my friends if they could determine which of the listed statements were found in Scripture. Thirteen people voted, but only one got them all right. So, we're going to walk through 8 statements that are commonly attributed to Scripture, and see which ones make the cut, and where the others come from.
1. "As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." All 13 voters thought that this was Scripture, and they were right. It's Proverbs 26:11, and it's one of my very favorite verses. I love the language the authors of the Bible used, it makes me grin.
2. "God helps those who help themselves." One person voted for this, but I've heard it quoted by many. Unfortunately for them, this is not in Scripture. And honestly, I think it's pretty stifling to God's grace. I did a little research and found that the origin of this little ditty goes back to an Aesopian Fable called "Hercules and the Waggoneer." It also appeared in Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac". Franklin, being a deist, didn't believe that God played an active role in men's lives. So, if a man couldn't help himself, he was helpless. Mr. Franklin was a swell guy, but he was way off on this one:
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly....But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." ~Romans 5:6-8
3. "A house divided cannot stand." Abraham Lincoln actually said this, but Jesus said it first. Almost everyone got this one right, it is found in Scripture. We see variations of this in mark 3:25, Matthew 12:25, and Luke 11:17.
4. "God works in mysterious ways." Not Scripture. Although there's no denying that there's truth in this statement, it's found nowhere in the Bible. I couldn't find a definite origin for this, but if I was a bettin girl I'd say it started amongst women. Perhaps they were knitting, or maybe they were at the beauty shop, but one of them uttered these profound words and it took off from there. Can't you see it? One's crying about the "whys" and "what ifs" of her life, when another lady leans forward (hair in curlers), removes her glasses from her nose and says, "Honey, God works in mysterious ways." Yep, that's how it started, I'm sure of it.
Nevertheless, I think the truth of the statement can be summed up by Romans 8:28:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
5. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" While the world would argue that a leopard can, in fact, change his spots, the Bible says otherwise. We find this verse in Jeremiah 13:23. 11 out of the 13 voters got this one right.
This next one is my favorite.
6. "God won't give you more than you can handle." Not Scripture. I know, you're shocked, I was too when I realized this. If you've been with me since the beginning of this blog you'll remember about a year ago when I struggled with this "verse". It was at the onset of my Lupus symptoms, when the doctors weren't yet sure what was going on and I was convinced that I would drop dead at any moment (thanks WebMD). Over and over I would assure myself that it was all going to be OK because God won't give me more than I can handle. Right? Right? Or . . . is that right? Because at that point I felt like I was drowning. My circumstances were so much more than I could handle. I was on the verge of a freakin meltdown. So I went to Scripture, and this is what I found.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure." -1 Corinthians 10:13
If you have one of those little decorative pillows with "God won't give you more than you can handle" cross-stitched onto it, throw it out. This verse is talking about temptation. It is in no way saying that God won't allow us to be overwhelmed (and even conquered) by life. I can just imagine the women who have killed their babies rocking back and forth in their straight jackets wondering what went wrong. Because obviously they were faced with more than they could handle.
Here's the thing, there is absolutely nothing that God cannot handle. Nothing we face in this life is outside of the reach of his arms. No pain. No trauma. No circumstances. Stitch that on a pillow. I'm sure when we throw this phrase out to people that's what we mean, not that they are all-capable but that God is. Nevertheless, we've got to change it up. Because standing apart from God we can't handle any of this. We'd all be in padded cells if He didn't constantly surround us with his grace.
7. "Can the blind lead the blind?" Scripture. In Luke 6:39 Jesus says, "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?"
I love it. 9 people got this one right, and maybe I threw the others off with the slight variation in wording. Anyways, this is all up in the Bible, and so very applicable to our lives.
Last but not least . . .
8. "The lion will lay down with the lamb." Not Scripture. That's right, this is nowhere in the Bible. 12 of the 13 got this one wrong, and 3 days ago I would have too. I mean, isn't this the quintessential Bible verse? Except, it's not. At least, not exactly. Here's where we get it:
"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them." - Isaiah 11:6
And . . .
"'The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,' says the Lord." Isaiah 65:25
It's close, but no cigar. I don't think this misquote harms the meaning of the verse, I just wanted to throw at least one in there that (most) everyone would fall for.
Thank you to all of my lab rats, I appreciate your help and understand if you never respond to another quiz I post on Facebook, since you now see that it's likely to be a trap.
The moral of the story: take a little time to make sure that you know what you know is right. The world twists Scripture enough, we need to get it right. We're responsible for every word from our mouths, every text from our thumbs, and every tweet that we tweet. So quote Scripture responsibly. And the only real way to insure that you know Scripture, (this is profound) . . . is to read it.
Before you go, what are some commonly misquoted verses that you hear?