We’ve all heard them—those all-too-cliché Christian inspirational quotes that people resort to when they need to give someone a little pick-me-up. You know like when Bobby Miller dumped you in the 10th grade and your mom responded with, “everything happens for a reason.” Or maybe you’ve heard my personal favorite: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking these clichés for being Christian inspirational quotes. In the right circumstances, they might be just what someone needs to turn their day—or even their life around. All I’m saying is, you most definitely won’t find them quoted in the Bible.
Here are 5 Christian inspirational quotes that aren’t actually found in Scripture.
1. “This too shall pass.”
Yes, the fact that the earth turns, and day will become night, then night will become day means that whatever circumstance you’re facing, it will indeed pass in one way or another. However, this incredibly common “Bible verse” is actually not what you’ll find in the Gospel.
Throughout the Bible, there are several verses which talk about things that will “come to pass.” In fact, the term, “come to pass” is listed over 400 times in the King James Version of the Bible. However, “come to pass” and “this too shall pass” are two very different things.
In scriptural context, “come to pass” is often a futuristic promise of God of something that is to come. Similarly, it is the passing over (or forgiveness) of our sins, as peoples who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.” –Joel 2:32
Where the Bible uses “come to pass” as a promise of things to come, society has a way of using “this too shall pass” as an encouragement through some of the darkest times. While they both offer inspiration and a bright outlook on the future, they are, in their own right, two very different things.
2. “Follow your heart.”
Or as my generation of millennials might say it, “Just do what feels right, man.” Disney movies and RomComs have led us to this notion that if you’re faced with a decision, you, in your humanness, can simply do what your heart thinks is right, and you’ll be happy as a clam.
But Y’all, this is so skewed, it HURTS!
Doing what “feels” right means that you’re relying on your FEELINGS to be your guide. I don’t know about you, but if I let my feelings dictate my life, I’m going to be stuck on an emotional roller coaster ride that never ends. Feelings change like the wind. But God, in all of his goodness, grace, mercy, and faithfulness is never changing.
As Christians, we were never created to just blindly “follow our hearts,” because our hearts were made to break. Not in a Taylor Swift kind of way, but TRULY break—for the things that break God’s heart.
You were created on purpose, for a purpose. So to suggest that anyone should “follow their heart” would suggest that God’s purpose for their life—their passions, their desires—all of it is less than the plans they have for themselves. Don’t follow your heart, follow God and He WILL lead you to greater purpose than you could have ever imagined.
3. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Uhm, actually, I beg to differ. This world is HARD. And if we, in our humanness were able to handle it all, what need would we have for an all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful God?
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that “in this world, there will be trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.”
It’s encouraging to hear, but let us not forget, HE has overcome the world, not us.
This world is FULL of temptation, hardships, inner struggles and outward battles. If God never allowed us to have more than we could handle, then under what circumstances would we NEED Him? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. I think that’s where this Christian inspirational quote comes from, but we’ve totally missed the mark, because the second half of that verse says “when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
HE will provide a way out.
It’s not a matter of God never giving us more than we can handle, but just the opposite. God pretty much guarantees you will not be able to handle what comes your way. That’s because He also promises to fight FOR you. He has overcome the world, and He WILL overcome the troubles you face, but first, we must surrender to Him, and trust Him when He says He WILL provide a way.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death,” Paul later says in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
Even the greatest disciples of the Lord were under “great pressure, far beyond [their] ability to endure.”
May we stop using this false Christian inspirational quote and instead encourage people today with Truth.
4. “God helps those who help themselves.”
I feel like this is one of those “jab” Christian inspirational quotes that people use when they’re seemingly condemning someone for not being able to overcome their situation.
For one thing, it is never our place to suggest that someone’s actions—may it be prayer or other physical efforts—are not enough to warrant God’s help and guidance. In fact, it’s the opposite of Biblical teachings.
God helps those who are helpless.
During Jesus’ time doing ministry on Earth, He spent his time helping orphans, widows, and needy people who were unable to help themselves. But when we really get down to it, isn’t that all of us? Aren’t we ALL helpless?
While we were still sinners, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, so that we may live free in Him. We didn’t do anything to help ourselves earn that freedom.
The coined phrase does, however, speak to certain circumstances when God helps the helpless, but we choose not to accept His help.
Say you get stranded at sea and you pray for God to help you. God sends a boat and you turn down the help saying, “no, it’s cool, God’s going to help me.” Then God sends a cruise ship, and you turn down the cruise ship, believing that God is going to help you. Then you die because God DID help you but you didn’t help yourself.
I doubt that most stranded individuals would pass up a boat or a cruise ship, but the idea is the same for this all-too-popular Christian inspirational quote. The Lord helps those who are helpless, and with the help He offers—that which can only be found in Him— we are able to help ourselves.
5. “We’re all God’s Children”
Yes, the Lord DID create every single one of us, and He did so in His own image. However, John 1:12 is very clear that children of God are those who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
While every human being is, in fact, a creation of God, not every person is a child of God. It is only those who have accepted His incredible gift of eternal life, acknowledge Him as their Lord and Savior who paid the greatest sacrifice on the cross to cover our sins and repents in His name.
God is relational, just as we are as humans because He created us in His image. He simply wants a relationship with his children just like a father here on earth would. The good news is that while not everyone IS a child of God, EVERY single human being has the ability to become a child of God, simply by joining in relationship with Him and pursuing Him just as he continuously pursues you.
May we be authentic in our pursuit and have Biblical conversations that speak Truth and wisdom in whatever circumstance you face today. Christian inspirational quotes are great, but when taken out of context, or used in place of God’s incredible truth and promises, they’re just empty words that offer little or no support. Be authentic, be real, and rely on scripture when lifting others up.