Yes, you’ve heard them. You’ve likely said them. But, have you stopped to consider the meaning behind them? While certainly well intended, there are a multitude of Christian phrases that actually aren’t Christian at all. Or, at least, not specifically biblical. So before you go any further in your pursuit of offering a helpful phrase that is easily understood, make sure you understand the root as well:
1. God will never give you more than you can handle.
Although one of the most quoted phrases, this is actually not in the Bible
. The verse that is taken out of context, speaks of temptation specifically, not difficulties in general (1 Corinthians 10:13
). God wants us to live a righteous life, so he won’t allow us to be tempted by sin that we cannot control. But otherwise, God does allow things into our lives that overwhelm us. Think of Job, who lost everything and wished for death. Certainly that was more than he could handle, and the Bible makes it clear that God allowed it in his life. But, being a redeeming God, these things are often used to bring us closer to Him, His will, in our futures, or in some cases to be used in ways that we simply may not understand in this life.
2. Hate the sin, love the sinner.
While this sounds Biblical and may make sense based on other biblical truths, this phrase actually finds its root in a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” Mostly used when trying to make sense of something we don’t agree with, this phrase does reflect biblical teachings even though it is not a Bible quote. Just as God hates sin, we are actually called to do the same (Psalm 97:10
) when we choose to follow Him. We are also called to love our fellow man second only to God, which is essentially saying we should love sinners since all men (including ourselves) sin. (Matthew 22:37-40
3. Everything happens for a reason.
While this is true, when used by Christians during someone’s time of need, this quote implies that God has a reason for everything that happens in our lives. Since He is omnipotent, He certainly knows why things happen in our lives, but it doesn’t mean He is necessarily the source. We have been given free will. He doesn’t orchestrate every part of our lives, choosing what will happen to us and when it will happen. And while He certainly can take anything and use it for His purpose, often the “reason” things happen is staring at us in the mirror.
4. It’s not our place to judge.
Yes, Jesus commanded us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1
). However, considering that in the following passages he began differentiating between judgments we should make, we can understand that when taken out of context this phrase is often used to stop us from pointing out the sin in other people’s lives, or to silence our own critics. It doesn’t mean that we can’t look at something someone is doing that is wrong, and form an opinion about it. That’s called discernment. Used in this way, it allows us to make better calls in our own lives. Instead, we are told not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24
), but to judge fairly. To not judge hypocritically (Matthew 7:3-4
), and based only on the facts. (Proverbs 19:5
5. All you need to do to go to heaven is ask Jesus into your heart.
Before I became a Christian, this was one of the most confusing phrases of Christianese I’d heard. In fact, when I gave my life to Christ, I wondered if I was doing it right, or if I needed to say some kind of speech to invite him “into my heart” even though I had no idea what that meant. What this actually means is that in order to experience salvation in Jesus Christ, you must believe that Jesus is Lord. Maybe because we often think of a deep belief as something that we believe “with all our heart,” or because once we become believers, we often experience a “change of heart,” this phrase has become common in Christian circles. However, you will find no direct biblical reference to it. What the Bible does say is that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10
6. When God closes a door, He opens a window.
Often given as an excuse for why things don’t go the way we planned, this has no biblical basis at all. Instead, the actual phrase comes from… get ready… The Sound of Music. While God is certainly loving, this suggests that no matter what, He will fulfill whatever hopes and dreams we are pursuing. That if our plans fail, He will find another way to work it out for us. But, the truth is that God does say no at times. And while it’s true that He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28
), He is looking at things from an eternal perspective and our ultimate good. Not what we might envision.
7. Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.
While many don’t want to admit it because of how society tends to view religion as a straitjacket of rules and regulations, Christianity is by definition a religion. And while this phrase is certainly intended to avoid negative perceptions, the truth is we are an “organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship” (Merriam-Webster). Certainly, having a relationship with God is core to our belief system. But, it doesn’t change the fact of what we are, nor should it.
In all likelihood, most Christians have been both the giver and receiver of a few of these phrases. But, to those not familiar with the Bible, they can come across as biblical truth. Next time, rather than pulling out a carefully coined phrase, simply speak from your heart, supported by Scripture.
Laura Polk is a writer, speaker, and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her three children. Since becoming a single mom, her passion to minister to this group has led her to encourage successful single mom living through The Christian Single Mom on Facebook. Follow her journey through her blog or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on Pinterest.
Publication date: April 22, 2016