Language Check Please

Friends, can I be completely honest for a minute? Oh wait a minute…you’ve come to expect nothing less. I love the openness that is encouraged from you all when it comes to my posts.

There’s one thing that irritates me more easily than almost anything else. It’s those sayings that we all use that are very common, but not necessarily biblical. These sayings are inherently good, but could (depending on the person you’re talking to) be taken completely opposite to what was meant by the saying.

The two sayings that generally get under my skin (thus far) have been:

  1. “God never gives us more than we can handle”
  2. “God helps those that help themselves”

Like I said, common sayings. I know that in my lifetime I’ve said them. Over the past year or so, these two sayings have gotten on my nerves more than anything else I can remember. I think I have found a couple reasons why.

The first reason, neither of these sayings are found in the bible. They have both been proven wrong time and time again. Both in the bible and in many of our personal lives.

The first, we know isn’t true. It says time and time again that He will give us more than we can handle because He longs for us to rely on him rather than on our own strength. The second, sure, the bible talks about laziness and it’s adverse effects, but it never says that He will help those who help themselves, nor does the bible say that he will not help those who don’t.

More than the fact of the questionable standing of being biblical, is what the results can be when we use these to “help” people around us. If we’d take the time to think about it, we may find a deeper truth.  One that we’ve never thought about before…after all, that is the purpose of following God, to come to a deeper understanding of truths right?

Anyway, if we were to tell someone who doesn’t understand God or His ways that He will never give humans more than they can handle, in my opinion, we are doing them a huge disservice. What happens if the person we tell that to is a baby follower, still on “milk” not yet to solids yet and believes that to be the ultimate truth. If that person (adult or child) hasn’t learned to test everything yet, and it becomes their motto for life.

Then something bigger than them happens in their lives. Something that they cannot handle (on their own) and they don’t realize all they have to do is ask God for help. So instead of leaning on Him, they decide that this “religion” is false, it’s not true and they walk away…forever. That could be the difference between them suffering eternal damnation rather than enjoying eternal life.

Now the second, if one was to tell a child, or a young Christian (who’s never heard the saying before and doesn’t know what is said meant), or even worse still a child with a disability, “God helps those who helps themselves”, it is extremely possible that they will hear “God only helps those who help themselves (and no one else)”.

The problem with that is it turns following Him into a works based way of life as compared to a faith based works of life. While we are told that “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). We are also told that we cannot get to heaven through works alone (multiple references).

My point is not the validity/invalidity of these sayings, my point is to encourage followers of Christ (including myself) to double check the language we use. We cannot assume that everyone is going to understand what we say when we use:

  1. Christianese (i.e. church language)
  2. Cliches (i.e. over used words/sayings)
  3. Assumption of understanding
  4. The way we relate to others in general (especially those who are new believers or don’t believe)

Join me in this fight to make following Christ more real and easier for everyone to understand?