20 False “Biblical” Sayings

“Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”

We see cute little whimsical says all of the time; on bumper sticker, in holiday and birthday cards, on billboards and lots of other places to catch our attention. They are the “sound bites” of wisdom no matter what era in which we happen to live.

Unfortunately, these sayings are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Even though they are easy to remember and sound wise, they are unbiblical. If one takes the time to read the Bible and compare what it says against the saying, mostly what they teach is opposite to what the Bible really teaches. Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs this: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” [Proverbs 3:7 NLT] Dallas Willard translates this verse as: “I don’t know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out.

Here is the 1st of twenty:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

As with so many misstatements from the Bible, this statement is actually about self-reliance and self-righteousness. It’s point is simple: if we have an attitude of trying harder and doing better, then God will step in and help us and not before. However, this attitude  actually gets in the way of the work of God.

It is hard to nail down where this saying originated but most historians say that it seems to first appear  in the Aesopian fable Hercules and the Wagoneer. Aesop lived from about 620–564 BC. Like most fable of its genre it is brief so here it is in its entirety:

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress.” But Hercules appeared to him, and said: “Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”

Benjamin Franklin, known for being a deist and author of Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1736 wrote: “God helps them that help themselves.” Franklin did not believe that God was playing any active role in the affairs of men. He of the Yankee mindset common to the New England states at that time that if a man was not willing and able to help himself, then that man was without hope and not to be pitied. Ben’s attitude was if men were without hope and felt helpless were just out of luck. The Bible teaches something very unique. Ben Franklin was very much aware of this difference from hearing and commenting on great preachers such as George Whitfield and D.L. Moody, both who preached in Boston. God’s message to us is this: “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.” We are not left without help. We just need to look in the right direction to find the solution that God has provided: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”

Lessons in Oak

No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap.

One summer afternoon years ago, an older business friend and I were at a cafe having coffee. We liked the place because it had a great view of a tree filled park across the street with a spectular view of the snow-topped Colorado Rockies behind it. This particular afternoon, I was complaining about a office situation that I was up-in-arms about. After I finished my ‘rant, he asked if he might give me a word of advice. I respected his insights so I said sure. He told me to put my coffee down, turn in my seat and take a good look out the window.

I looked and then turned back to him. “Turn around and look again,” he said. “You know why those magnificient oak trees live to be hundreds of years old?” I shook my head ‘no.’ “Because they are flexible. When the winds come roaring in gale force down from the mountains or howling off of the plains, they bend. No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap. That’s why they live to be hundreds of years old.” By the time I had turned around he had picked up the tab and left.

We are becoming more and more an inflexible society. Bending does not mean changing. Bending means absorbing the ebb and flow of ideaological currents. Inflexiblilty results in chaos and cruelty.

Water tight integrity

I was not able to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union address. However, I am reading all of the commentary that it generates. Ever since getting back to the US, I am worried for this nation’s future. It appears that Obama briefly addressed our country’s ever-growing deficit, but he reinforced his stance on how the rich must pay their due. It appears that he is refusing to acknowledge any other solutions for our nation’s debt other than creating class distinctions, something that the Constitutional framers worked hard to eliminate. Reading about his other speeches, the problem of debt crisis is nominal.

I am a navy veteran and the political situation feels as if I am in a sinking ship. Water is pouring from this huge gash in the bottom of the boat. Water pressure is causing the gash to widen; threatening to break the keel in two. Captains in the past have not called for watertight integrity as they poured more power to the ship because they wanted to be popular with the crew. The two crews [Port Water Integrity Crew and Starboard Water Integrity Crew] responsible for getting rid of the water only argue about which side of the boat they should work on first. Each crew is insisting that their side gets fixed first. They insist on using only their very limited material rather than combining material and crews. If they manage to come to an agreement, they only lift a single bucket of water out of the onslaught of liquid and then go right back to arguing. The President and Congress seems incapable of understanding that we have to band together and that everyone has to compromise for this problem to be solved. The President saying that simply making the rich pay 30 percent of their income in taxes isn’t going to be a fix all. Is that disturbing to you? Does that seem short-sighted? But then should I expect better heading into an election year? The priority is not fixing the country but getting votes to stay in office.

Because we as a nation have for the most part abandoned the idea of being ‘one nation under God’ this abandonment has deprived her of leaders that truly care about America and its future. Our nation’s future is becoming nothing more than a foolish fairy tale. That is why I do not pin my hopes on a party or man to bring change. Political parties and men change to suit their agendas but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. I am staking my vote on Him.