Even though Western culture gets slapped with the “Post-Christian” label, that doesn’t mean references to biblical ideas have been scrubbed away. In fact, nods to Scripture show up quite often in pop culture—from movies to rockstars. With the rise of social media, the spread of biblical sounding phrases has—well—gone viral. Beautiful images filled with inspirational phrases slowly take on the status of being “somewhere in the Bible.” But when you take a closer look, you’ll have a great deal of trouble finding them. That’s because they aren’t really there—and sometimes they’re even contrary to what God actually says.
You see, we’ve got some “everybody knows” notions about God’s Word that borrow much more from Western ethos than they do from the Wisdom literature. You could say they're something like the “old wives’ tales” that popular imagination has attributed to the Good Book. That doesn’t mean these “phantom verses” are okay, though. In fact, they actually go against what Scripture teaches. Sometimes in damaging ways.
So, what verses do people think are in the Bible but really aren’t? Here are 10 to get us started:
1. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” 1 Memes 7:77
When some difficulty arises in the life a believer (or anyone else), this supposed verse gets tossed out there like a Scripture bomb. Sure, it sounds compelling, and it does remind us of God’s care and concern for each of us. After all, He knows exactly the number of follicles growing out of your cranium:
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
But it’s because God loves us and knows us that He must give us more than we can handle. After all, we humans have a tendency to think that we can do everything on our own. Our pride has a way of dragging us down:
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
To keep us grounded in the reality of our need for a Savior, God graciously allows us to see just how much we can’t handle. He put the prophet Elijah’s back against the wall and made him depend upon birds, He gave Moses 600,000 impossible-to-please travelers, He tasked the 11 apostles with spreading the gospel all over the world, and He’ll give you way more than you can handle, too.
Now, the Bible does say that God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your limits:
“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.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
And that is certainly great news. We all need the assurance. But temptation is not usually what people mean when they say this supposed verse.
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