Some Sayings Are Just Sayings

Sayings, songs and sundry speeches have long and overarching reaches.

I’ll explain this bit of verse after setting the stage.

People often put stock in wise-sounding sayings. But does everyone examine each saying closely before jumping on its bandwagon? Having said this, I realize anything I say—particularly on this subjectshould have its feet held to the fire as well.

Every saying should be evaluated on its own merits, not based on its source or how true it might sound on the surface. Or do you think everything Winston Churchill said is quotable? Alright, maybe it is. He certainly had quite a few important things to say. But I know you understand my meaning.

Don’t take a saying at face value. Weigh each word carefully. Examine each quote to see if it is true and wise before you pass it on to other people. It’s quite likely not all true sayings are wise and not all wise sayings are true. Give yourself ample time to think about what has been said before you add to its spread.

A few examples

We use famous quotes all the time, but should all famous quotes be shared? Here are a few quotes from sayings, songs and sundry speeches for us to consider how they hold up after careful scrutiny.

“A witty saying proves nothing”, said Voltaire. Let’s examine this wise-sounding saying. You might notice it sounds familiar. This is partly because it’s a famous quote, but also because it is very like what the subject of this article is about. Yes, part of the inspiration I have for writing this comes from Voltaire’s quote.

But let’s examine this saying closer. Is it true? I believe it is true in a self-evident way. It is a saying that implies all other sayings should be validated as being true before being passed on as being true.

But its own validation requires us to find at least one wise—or witty—saying which isn’t true. If we can find just one such saying, then I believe Voltaire’s quote holds up as both true and wise.

Am I born this way?

There was a song performed by Lady Gaga several years ago called “Born This Way”. The basic premise of the song is all people are the way they are because God made them that way, i.e. they were born that way. The song had a list of different behaviors that were portrayed as attractions that we should act on simply for being ourselves.

Is it true that we have no choice on how we should behave if we are simply born that way? Unfortunately for Lady Gaga and the people who accept this song as truth, there is simply no scientific evidence that people are born with specific behaviors. I am not saying people aren’t born with specific attractions, but that is a different article.

Is “Born This Way” witty? I would say so. Some people certainly find it a catchy tune and an attractive idea so I can see why somebody would think it is witty. Given that this idea isn’t true based on scientific research, I think we have already found our candidate that shows Voltaire’s quote above to be both wise and true.

Should we judge?

Having looked at a saying and a song, let’s look at something often said at the beginning of a speech.

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “In the Bible, Jesus says it is wrong to judge.” This usually comes right after you have said something that the person didn’t like. Some even say the Bible warns against judging. Mmm, no it doesn’t. In fact, both of these claims are false. We are actually told to judge as long as we judge rightly.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be hypocritical when judging. When Jesus talked about judging others, he wanted us to make sure we confess and ask forgiveness for our own sins before we point out sins in others. We all make hundreds of judgments every day and we would not live very long without the ability to make good judgments.

As long as we hold God up as the standard of righteousness, we can judge rightly. It is one thing to judge self-righteously but another to judge rightly. Let’s judge according to the way Jesus advised us to judge.

What do the Police say about this?

I opened this article by saying, “Sayings, songs and sundry speeches have long and overarching reaches.” Some of you might notice a certain familiar cadence to this sentence and a string of alliteration that reminds you of a famous song.

My opening verse is a take on a line from The Police song “De do do do, de da da da”. Sting sang, “Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions, words that scream for your submission, no one’s jamming their transmission.”

Sting is a brilliant poet and musician himself, so I feel quite sure the potential irony of his words weren’t lost on him. He is certainly a poet who has his own words to thank for his position. Sting and this song were another part of my inspiration for writing this.

What does the Bible say about this?

The Bible is full of trustworthy sayings. The following one from Titus 3:4-8 (NIV) even marks itself as such:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.

Should we simply accept a wise or witty saying from someone offhandedly without first closely examining it for truth? Some sayings are trustworthy and true, but certainly not all of them. Don’t just take it from me. Nothing I say matters right now. I’m convinced none of my sayings will be quoted until I’m an old dead guy. And you can quote me on that.

 

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