Modern Sayings and their Biblical Sources


There are many sayings or 'proverbs' in popular use today that have their roots in the scriptures. With some, there have been slight changes in the meaning over the years (which means they no longer reflect the Word of God). Others have retained their meaning, even if in different words than the original. In this teaching we will study several of these modern sayings.

Saying: Laughter is the best medicine.

Biblical Source: Proverbs 17: 22 -- A merry heart doeth good like  a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

A literal translation of the first half of the proverb: A cheerful heart is health to the body. Modern medical research has proven this to be true. Laughter and a cheerful positive outlook greatly improves the rate of recovery from illness. Also, it helps prevent sickness in the first place.

Saying: You reap what you sow.

Biblical Source: Galatians 6: 7 -- Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

This saying is easily understood, and means the same as the verse from Galatians. You get back what you give out. If you sow what is good such as love, you reap back the same. If you sow hate and strife, you reap hate and strife.

Saying: No man can serve two masters.

Biblical Source: Matthew 6: 24 -- No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

In this case, the modern saying comes up short as far as the complete meaning of the biblical source is concerned. Matthew is specifically stating that no one can serve both God and material things (mammon). God must be first in your life. You either love God, or you love 'things'. If God is not first, you are serving another master. The modern saying does not specify that God even be considered as one of the masters.

Saying: Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Biblical Source: Proverbs 29: 15 -- The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself   bringeth his mother to shame.

A related verse is: Proverbs 13: 24 -- He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth [instructs] him betimes.

Literal translation according to Biblical usage:

Proverbs 13: 24 -- He that loves his child will diligently seek to instruct him.

The modern saying delivers the general gist of the Proverbs. A child who is not reproved and corrected will not develop a sense of what is right and wrong. The second Proverb even states that a child is not loved if he is not disciplined. This of course does not mean that children should be beaten, but they do need to learn the limits of acceptable behavior.

Saying: Mind your own business.

Biblical Source: I Thessalonians 4: 11 -- And that ye study [endeavor] to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

The modern saying is good advice to follow, but the biblical source is more specific. We should put forth an effort to lead a quiet life, and to 'mind' our own business, and to do our own work. No putting your nose in someone else's business.

Saying: There's a time and a place for everything.

Biblical Source: Ecclesiastes 3: 1 -- To every thing there is  a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Verses 2 through 8 go on to list various 'things' that have a time and a place. A time to be born, a time to plant, etc. This saying is used to drive home the point that although certain actions are not appropriate all the time, there are times or situations where they are appropriate.

Saying: Can a leopard change its spots?

Biblical Source: Jeremiah 13: 23 -- Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then  may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

This verse gives it's own explanation. Can someone change their behavior even if it is ingrained in them, so that it is part of their being? If someone is accustomed to doing evil as a way a life, it becomes almost like a physical characteristic, and therefore very difficult to change.

Saying: Faith can move mountains.

Biblical Source: Mark 11: 23 -- For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

The modern saying is dramatically shorter than the verse in Mark, but the meaning is the same. The word 'faith' is the Greek word pistis  which means 'believing'. If he who says these things BELIEVES it (takes action), and does not doubt, then it SHALL come to pass. Believing can move mountains.

These are just a few examples of modern 'proverbs' that have originated from the Word of God. It shows how pervasive the Word is in our daily life, even in ways that we didn't realize. The next time we hear one of these sayings, we should stop and think about the source, and what it really means.