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UCG-A Bible Insights Thursday, July 11 2024

Five things Jesus did not say

At high school and college graduations it’s typical for speeches to contain familiar expressions and sayings that sound positive and sincere—but are they accurate? How do they measure up to the written Word of God?

Let’s take a look at five of the most often repeated and accepted “truths” frequently professed at graduation ceremonies and in society as a whole, and see how they measure up to the Word of God.

1. Be true to yourself

This is a common phrase implying we know what is best for ourselves, but Jesus didn’t ever say this. Instead, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and we are admonished to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5).

While we all have talents, abilities and goals, we still need guidance and direction from God. The book of Proverbs tells us, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool...” (Proverbs 28:26), and that we are to “... incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:2,5). While trusting in ourselves sounds wise and self-sufficient, that path can ultimately lead to destruction without reliance on God and His Word.

2. Follow your heart

In our modern world we are encouraged to find our own “moral compass” and students are supported in establishing their own set of beliefs and values regarding right and wrong, but Jesus actually said the opposite. He instructed us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), because the hearts of men and women are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). He explained: “... out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).

The Bible often warns us to guard against following the dictates of our hearts and emotions. Proverbs 14:12 tells us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Christ taught the heart of a person needs to change. In fact, we are promised that “a new heart” will be given to us when we determine to follow God’s laws and become converted (Ezekiel 36:26).

Emotions and feelings are an important part of life, and a blessing from God if we experience them in the right way. However, blindly following our feelings and desires can lead to making life-altering mistakes. Rather than seeking to live by our own ‘truth’, let’s be diligent to first of all seek real truth. Jesus, when praying to His Father said “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

3. Believe in yourself

Jesus Christ never encouraged us to believe in ourselves, but actually said, “ believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Many people in our society today claim to believe IN Christ, but they don’t want to BELIEVE Christ—very few are actually willing to DO what Christ said to do.

When we find ourselves in difficult trials, it might be beneficial to remember Paul’s encouraging words, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In fact, Paul is an excellent example of belief in Christ, and his life is a testimony to that belief.

When Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, revealing that it was He whom Paul had been persecuting, Paul changed from a life of persecuting Christians to a life of preaching the Gospel. He believed Christ and lived his life acting out those beliefs. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

4. Do what makes you happy

We all want to be happy, but real happiness isn’t the result of wealth, status, fame or possessions. We regularly hear of rich and famous people who experience broken lives of failed marriages, substance abuse, and even early death.

The praise of men is fleeting at best. Jesus asked the rhetorical question: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). He equated happiness with inner peace. “...My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

God wants us to experience the right kind of pleasure which brings true and lasting happiness. King David wrote that God, “...will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Real happiness and peace are the result of knowing and obeying our Creator and Savior.

5. The future is in your hands

This phrase is partially true, at least in reference to the effort we put into our own lives. We are to follow God’s teachings, work hard, be a good example to others, and reap the blessings of doing so, but we cannot change what will occur in the future. There are end-time troubles prophesied, but those trials won’t last forever. They will act as wake-up calls to a world deceived by Satan. Then Jesus Christ will return as King of kings bringing real peace and lasting happiness to the entire earth.

The most wonderful promises are given to us as a result of following God’s instructions, and believing in His words and promises. Notice Christ’s promise in Revelation 3:21: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations….[and]...will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”