In daily speech and writing, people very often use sayings or quote things that came from elsewhere, but which have been used so much that they’ve entered the realm of ‘common use’. Quite a few people have no idea where the saying came from. Many may have come from the Holy Bible, since that is the best selling book of all time, but some actually didn’t come from the bible at all, though lots of people think that it did. This might surprise people. Let’s look at some of the sayings and where they came from.
“You reap what you sow.”
Although the quote isn’t exact, this one does come from the bible. It comes from Galatians 6:7, which says:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Many variations have been used, but the saying comes from the bible and it was written around 49 ad.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
This both is and isn’t a biblical quote. There is a quote that is very similar in the bible, but the meaning isn’t the same at all. The actual quote is from 1 Timothy 6:10, which says:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Note that the difference between the true quote and the one that is often stated is that the bible isn’t saying that money, the object, is evil. However, the overwhelming desire for the money is what is wrong. Put slightly differently and in context, having a stronger desire for money than for God is evil.
“God won’t give you more than you can bear.”
This is biblical, however the way it is commonly used is quite incorrect and isn’t what the scripture is referring to at all. To be more precise, the actual verse wasn’t referring to physical problems. It was referring to temptations, specifically of Satan. The verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.
Also, the Greek for temptation was actually ‘tested’, not what we commonly think of.
“Judge not lest ye be judged.”
This is biblical and it comes from Matthew 7:1, but the way it is used is commonly not in context with the meaning of the verse. If a person reads Matthew 7:1-5, it becomes clear that Jesus was actually saying that in order to judge, we must first clean up our own act. The saying is actually an admonition for us to pay more attention to our own shortcomings than to those of our brothers and sisters.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
This is not biblical. It is a corruption of Proverbs 13:24, which says:
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
The meaning is obviously not the same as the way the common phrase is used, and the common phrase isn’t from scripture. The bible doesn’t support beating children, by a long shot.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
This isn’t from scripture. It does say in James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
but this is obviously not the same as the common saying, nor is it a reference to physical cleanliness. The fact is that Jesus never said anything that could be considered to indicate that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
“God moves in mysterious ways.”
This isn’t said anywhere in the Bible. The bible is clear that we don’t have the ability to understand God’s plans and that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), but the bible doesn’t say that God’s ways are a mystery.
“This above all: To thine own self be true.”
This one doesn’t come from the bible. In fact, it isn’t even close to being biblical, even though it sounds like something that might be contained in the holy book. It is an actual quote, though. So where does it come from? It’s from Hamlet; Act 1, Scene 3. It was written by William Shakespeare. (This is also where “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” comes from; , same play, same act, same scene.)
It is hardly surprising that so many people are confused about Christianity, including quite a few Christians, when many commonly used phrases and sayings are misused or don’t come from the bible at all. One of the simplest ways to resolve the confusion is so obvious that it can be easily missed, unfortunately; read the Book! Even atheists might find something interesting in the pages and it is doubtful that any would argue that the bible is the best selling book of all time. That, alone, would be an excellent reason to read it. The fact of the matter is that it isn’t just Christians who buy and read the bible.
To a true Christian, that is a reason for rejoicing.