We all have certain sayings that we regularly use. In my house, we often remind the kids, “You’ll get what you get and you won’t get upset,” particularly when it’s time for a snack. Another favorite: “We’re gonna have fun whether we like it or not.”
These are well and good, at least to a point—that is, only in as much as we ascribe no more value to them than their due. Christians are no different; we have shorthand phrases that are sometimes helpful, but often not. In fact, many we treat as downright biblical when they’re more likely to be found in 2 Hesitations. Here are five that I’d love to see never ever used again:
“Let’s pray for a hedge of protection.” I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure what this means. I get the reference—the only place you see this language used in the Bible at all is in Job. However, there it’s Satan accusing God of not playing fair with Job, that the only reason Job doesn’t blaspheme him is because God has placed a “hedge around him” (Job 1:10). Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray for such a thing, but if the only example we have of something remotely close to it in the Bible is from the lips of the devil maybe it’s not such a great idea.
“God helps those who help themselves.).
“Let go and let God.” As you can guess, this one is related to the one I just mentioned. The Keswickian notion that if you just surrender and have faith and if you’re struggling just surrender harder is, well, kind of silly (to say nothing of how it leads to classism among Christians). No matter how hard you look, you’re not going to find anything in the Bible that confirms it. Instead, you’re going to be told constantly to strive, do, go forth, fight and so on. God commands an active faith, not passivity. So stop saying this! (And for those interested, Andrew Naselli’s got a tome analyzing Keswick theology in great detail. If you’re a Logos user, it’s worth checking out.)
“When God closes a door, he opens a window.” This is a weird one that I’ve never quite understood. The whole “open door” theology thing has always seemed strange to me, though. I can’t find anything that would give any sort of credence to this notion in the Bible. At all. (The only thing we have that’s close is the admonition that God never leaves us without escape from temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Further, it seems that not every door that is open to us is one we should actually go through. Sometimes opportunities are presented as choices for us to say no to. But maybe I just don’t have enough faith …
There are, no doubt, more that could be added to this list. But for now, maybe it’s enough for us to commit to thinking carefully and biblically about the things we say and how much weight we give those sayings. But just a warning: If we do this, we might find we probably shouldn’t say some of them at all. And may God be glorified because of it.