Things Jesus Never Said

I was at a prayer meeting last year with several others who work in full-time ministry. We were talking about motherhood and how hard it is to raise children without a community of support when one woman spoke up, "It's like the Bible says, 'It takes a village to raise a child.'" Everyone in the group nodded in affirmation, but all I could think was: "THAT'S NOT IN THE BIBLE." Don't get me wrong - the sentiment is pure, and it's probably something that could have been in the Bible, but I was surprised that someone in full-time ministry didn't realize she was actually quoting Hillary Clinton. 

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Over the years, I've heard many people attribute words to Jesus that he simply didn't say. Some are true words that reflect the heart of God; some are misguided. The following is a list of statements Jesus never actually said...

1. God helps those who help themselves. In fact, the whole of Scripture asserts a different value. God helps those who are at the end of themselves - the sinners, the destitute, the marginalized, and the outcasts. In the ancient world, God even commanded his people to forgive debts every seven years! This is the heart of God: to help those who cannot help themselves.

2. Follow your heart. While God puts unique passions and gifts in each of us, he never advises us to be lead by these things. In fact, Jeremiah 17 details how the Israelites were led astray by idols, admonishing them that, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things." Our passions aren't bad, and ignoring emotion is to ignore the image of God present in each of us. But we were never meant to be led by our passions; we're meant to be led by God.

3. Everything happens for a reason. God doesn't waste anything, and Ecclesiastes says there is a season for all things, but that's very different than saying everything happens for a reason. I have only ever heard this statement made in situations when someone is experience immense grief, and this sentiment acts as an ill-equipped band-aid over a gaping wound. It lacks empathy and oftentimes trivializes a person's pain. 

4. God won't give you more than you can handle. When people experience difficult circumstances, they're often met with this response from well-meaning Christians. While the motives are pure, the statement is not true. God knows that we are likely to rely on our own strength, so he regularly brings us into situations that require dependence on him because we can't handle it. Now, the Bible does say that God won't allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but that's usually not what people mean when they quote this supposed verse.

5. If God closes one door, he will open another. I've lived enough life to know that this is just not true. Sometimes God closes a door and nothing else opens up. Sometimes the door that opens is not the one you want because God doesn't always call us to things we love. What I do know is this - Luke 16:10 says if you're faithful in little things then you'll be faithful in big things. That makes me want to be faithful where I am with what I have in this moment.

I used to worry about how to discern between truth and lies. How do I know if the voice in my head is from God or not? A mentor wisely encouraged me, "You don't need to worry about identifying what's false. Just get to know Jesus, become familiar with his voice, and the lies will be obvious." When we consistently spend time in communion with Jesus, we become accustomed to the nuances of his voice.

How have you grown to hear his voice more clearly? In what ways has Jesus changed the way you receive words from others?