With the rise of social media, the spread of biblical sounding phrases has—well—gone viral. Beautiful images filled with inspirational phrases slowly take on the status of being “somewhere in the Bible.” But when you take a closer look, you’ll have a great deal of trouble finding them. That’s because they aren’t really there—and sometimes they’re even contrary to what God actually says.
There’s so much wisdom in Scripture that these false verses can often lead us down the wrong road. So, here are 4 “verses” to watch out for:
1. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” 1 Memes 7:77
When some difficulty arises in the life a believer (or anyone else), this supposed verse gets tossed out there like a Scripture bomb. Sure, it sounds compelling, and it does remind us of God’s care and concern for each of us. After all, He knows exactly the number of follicles growing out of your cranium:
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” ( Luke 12:7 )
But it’s because God loves us and knows us that He must give us more than we can handle. After all, we humans have a tendency to think that we can do everything on our own. Our pride has a way of dragging us down:
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” ( Proverbs 16:18 )
To keep us grounded in the reality of our need for a Savior, God graciously allows us to see just how much we can’t handle. He put the prophet Elijah’s back against the wall and made him depend upon birds, He gave Moses 600,000 impossible-to-please travelers, He tasked the 11 apostles with spreading the gospel all over the world, and He’ll give you way more than you can handle, too.
Now, the Bible does say that God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your limits:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.” ( 1 Corinthians 10:13 )
And that is certainly great news. We all need the assurance. But temptation is not usually what people mean when they say this supposed verse.
2. “If you work hard enough, you’ll be successful.” 2 Jobs 4:04
Is hard work good? Yes. In fact, we’re told over and over in Proverbs that we’re supposed to work hard ( 12:11, 13:4, 14:23 , etc.). Jesus kept a tireless pace during His life on earth, and you’ll never hear Paul condemn someone who works hard (in fact, he condemns those who don’t in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ).
But the popular idea that hard work necessarily equals abundant earthly blessings has no basis in Scripture. In fact, for all His hard work, Jesus sometimes had nowhere to even sleep at night ( Luke 9:58 ).
Paul, the tireless tentmaker, spent much of his time running from mobs, swimming from shipwrecks, and singing in jail.
As a Christian, you are supposed to work at everything as if you’re doing it for Jesus. But the reward is in knowing you did your best for Him, not in seeing our bank accounts bloom. While we may receive tangible blessings for our hard work, the bigger blessing is knowing that our Father who sees everything is pleased ( Matthew 6:4 ). That’s a huge reward in itself.
3. “If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it.” Suburbians 3:9
This so-called verse does conjure up images of the Israelites passing through the Red Sea or Joshua leading God’s people through the Jordan River. We can see David’s Shepherd guiding us through that Valley of the Shadow of Death. Plus, it rhymes.
However, this isn’t necessarily what the Bible teaches.
It is true that God is with us always, no matter what we face, just as Jesus said:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b
But oftentimes we use this supposed verse to mean that God will always remove us from a bad situation. Tough job? God will get you out the door. Struggling marriage? God will fix it before you know it. Made a dumb decision? God will take care of it.
Could He get you out of that tough spot? Sure. Will He? That’s up to Him and His perfect will.
With the prophet Daniel, for example, God led the boy off into captivity. But He never brought him “through” Babylon and back to Israel. Instead, He kept him there through king after king, battle after battle, danger after danger. Daniel grew old and died far from home—never seeing the land he longed for. But God used that time for some amazing displays of His power.
So, you may never get “through” your struggle. God may lead you to stay right where you are so that you can have an impact there—and He can get the glory.
4. “If God closes one door, He’ll open another (or a giant window).” Ingressions 2b
You could say this folksy verse is closely associated with number 2 above. It has the same potential for stock image inspiration in your social media feed, and it does have some truth to it. The Bible does promise that God will keep us headed in the right direction:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. ( Psalm 32:8 )
But the “way you should go” doesn’t necessarily mean God will make an escape hatch for us when times get tough or when we don’t seem to be making progress. In fact, God often does some of His best work in our waiting, and He teaches us to trust Him more:
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” ( Psalm 37:7 )
If God closes a door, we need to stop and consider what’s going on in our life.
Perhaps we’re trying to force our way into something that He wants to protect us from. Looking for another door or window may make us miss the lesson because we’re sure we should be doing something—anything. We keep trying to go where God wants to protect us from.
If God stops you, don’t immediately look for another way through. First, stop and ask Him if that’s truly what He wants you to do. Otherwise, you could be like Peter who tried to keep Jesus from being arrested when arrest was exactly what God had planned ( John 18:10 ).