A cliché is defined as “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” Some examples include “plenty of fish in the sea” or “think outside the box.” Christians have a full box of clichés that are used in faith circles but in today’s culture are often off-putting to people who have heard them hundreds of times. Here are some phrases that Christians say and some reasons to take them out of your vocabulary.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
This phrase emphasizes taking initiative. Benjamin Franklin is often considered the author of this phrase, but historians believe it dates to ancient Greece. Aesop wrote two fables that rely on this theme. It’s not from the Bible. Some believe that it is not a biblical concept, as it negates the need for grace. The message of Christianity is that God came to save the lost.
“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”
This statement has been attributed to Helen Keller, Oscar Hammerstein and Alexander Graham Bell. It may have some roots in the Bible, but it’s not necessarily biblical. Scripture has many examples of when God closed a door. In Acts 16, Paul and his companions were on a mission trip. Verse 7 says, “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Whether God opens a window is debatable. Maybe the door is closed to keep someone from heading in the wrong direction.
“Man meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
This cliché comes from something said by Joseph in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” The idea is reiterated in Romans 8, when Paul writes that God can bring good out of evil. Good can come out of tragedy. To people who aren’t familiar with the scripture, this cliché can sound as if it is God causing the evil.
“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.”
This cliché is completely biblical, but it’s often used to chastise people who don’t come to church. It comes from Hebrews 10:25. Community is important to believers, but not everyone believes that the only place to assemble is the church building. Verse 24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” which makes you think that the author of Hebrews probably didn’t mean for people to use verse 25 as a club.
“This is a ch--ch. What’s missing? U R.”
You’ve probably seen this phrase on a sign outside the church building. Just because someone sits in the church on Sunday morning listening to the sermon doesn’t make him or her part of the church. The New Testament body of believers didn’t worship in a stone building. In Greek, the word for church refers to the people who are called into God’s service.
“God will not give you more than you can handle.”
Some suspect that this phrase came from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
The scripture is talking about temptation, not suffering. The cliché seems to imply that if you’re suffering, your faith isn’t strong enough. That’s not true at all. Life is difficult. Sometimes you may be overwhelmed. You may need help. That’s okay. You don’t have to grin and bear it. Be cautious about using this cliché because it could push someone away from asking for help.