One of the best teachers I’ve ever had likes to say, “Something is not true because it’s in the Bible. It’s in the Bible because it’s true.
My first impulse was to reject the idea. It seemed like a subtle insult to the best measure of truth we have. After all, I thought, in my better moments I try to look at life through the pages of the stories, people, and statements of the Book of books. Seems to me that there is no end to the insights that can be drawn, not just from inspired words, but also from seeing how the God of creation worked with and through his people down through history. I know that I’ve found courage and comfort in seeing that people like us often felt the anger, self-confidence, loneliness, and fear that we often feel before seeing “God show up” in ways they had not expected.
But, then, I’ve thought, again about what I heard my teacher say: “Something isn’t true because it’s in the Bible. It’s in the Bible because it’s true.” Wait a minute, that’s double-talk. Or is it? No, it makes an important point.
For one thing there are statements in the Bible that are foolish and deceitful. That’s because both Old and New Testaments quote not only God and angels, but also the Devil, demons, and confused or evil people.
At the same time, the world is full of things that are true, even though they aren’t in the Bible. So the point can’t be that things are true only if they are in the Bible.
Slowly I get the picture. The God of the Bible has selectively drawn from his world a true story that allows us to see the difference between truth and error outside of its pages.
Let me give you some examples. Over the years I’ve collected hundreds of thoughts and quotes from all over and found value by seeing whether–and how– they resonate with the perspectives of the Bible. Sometimes I’ve found that atheists, agnostics, and rebels of all sorts can make some very insightful comments.
Here are some examples of outside-the-book thinking that I’ve collected and thought about over the years. See if you agree that there is either a truth or a smile that makes sense– in light of the wisdom of the Bible.
1. It’s better to deserve honors and not to have them, than to have them and not deserve them. Mark Twain
2. It is much wiser to invest in the future, than to borrow from it.
3. To change you must want something else more than you what you now have. AA
4. Woman to husband. Sure I spend more than you make. I have confidence in you. Lockhorns
5. A young couple sat in a restaurant. The woman looked bored. Sensing something wrong, but eager to please her, the young man said, Look we’ve talked a lot about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?
6. People in AA have a saying that we are only as sick as our secrets.
7. There are two kinds of people: Balcony people and Basement people (Those who say, “Come on up”; or those who say “Come on down”)
8. There are two kinds of people: Here I am people; There you are people.
9. Some people make a list of things they need to do and consider the job done.
10. You can learn more from your critics than your admirers.
11. A good friend is someone who brings out the best in you.
12. An education is of value to the extent that it protects us from the opinions of educated people.
13. What is important is not who is right– but what is right
14 It’s not so much a matter of how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.