Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

You're probably a Bible-reader. So you are familiar with such quotes as ...

  • Everything happens for a purpose.
  • Out of the mouths of babes.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
  • Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.
  • To err is human; to forgive is divine.
  • All men are created equal.

In case you were tricked, less than half of the proverbial lines above are from the Bible. Only the second (Psalm 8:2) and fourth (Hosea 8:7) are found in Scripture, although the third may have fooled you because it is close. Actually, Paul says "the love of money" drives all sorts of evil actions among humankind – not money itself. The other quotes are famous all right – just not from the Bible.

Want to give it a second shot? So which of these are from the Holy Book?

  • Jesus loves me, this I know.
  • God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.
  • Learn who you are meant to be.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • An idle mind is the devil's workshop.

Oops! Not one of those is a citation of the Bible. So what's the point?

A CNN blog by John Blake ("Actually, that's not in the Bible," June 5, 2011.) jumped out at me and got me to thinking along these lines. The blog in question was interesting and made the point that politicians, motivational speakers, and coaches are notorious for taking well-known sayings and assigning them to the Bible.

I agree with Blake's point that people are hardly so biblically literate as many think. I'm not sure I agree with his apparent emphasis on the importance of leaving Bible citation to the true Bible scholars. Maybe I missed his point on that. I surely hope so; scholars can be more outrageous than Average Jane or Joe!

What occurs to me in itemizing these not-in-the-Bible quotes (i.e., "chimney-corner Scriptures" I've heard them called) is less the biblical illiteracy of some or the occasional heretical idea one of them may seem to support than the fearful tendency of some believers to read our "common-sense wisdom" as theology.

So we live by a "dog-eat-dog philosophy" in a "hostile world where only the strong survive." We assume "what she doesn't know won't hurt her" because "it's my life and I'll do as I please." Yikes! Next thing you know, the Golden Rule becomes Iron to let us "do unto others before they do unto you." By the way, none of the quotes in this paragraph is biblical. Just wanted to be sure you knew.

Don't read the Bible for pithy quotes but to learn who you are meant to be.