You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But...

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Romans 12:2

Practice makes perfect. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Proverbs like these are old sayings we all know, but some of them aren’t very biblical. Before you let these statements of belief change your behavior or attitude, renew your mind in scripture to find the truth.

  1. Forgive but don’t forget. Although commonly repeated, this statement goes against the core idea of Jesus’s teachings in the Bible. You won’t experience the forgiveness God has in store for you unless you extend it to other people. You can’t experience the grace of God without passing it on to others. People who claim that they forgive, but never forget being wronged haven’t really forgiven in the first place.

  2. Don’t get mad, get even. It’s okay to feel angry or frustrated sometimes, as long as you don’t take your anger out on other people. Swallowing your anger and pretending everything is fine can cause bitterness and resentment, and getting even is the worst way to deal with your feelings. Taking revenge on others is only responding to evil with more evil. It is God’s place to give people what they deserve, not yours. Trust God and know that his justice is more precise than human justice could ever hope to be.

  3. The Lord helps those who help themselves. This popular phrase isn’t even found in the Bible! This statement is often misinterpreted. Most of Jesus’s time was spent in ministry to people who were unable to help themselves. Assume the best of people; help everyone in need, even if it seems like they could help themselves. Truly lazy people will be dealt with by God. Let only Him decide who is deserving aid.

  4. A leopard can’t change its spots. This is a saying that keeps people boxed in, makes excuses for people, and puts a limit on Christ’s power. Although it’s true our personalities don’t change, this phrase dismisses the change that Jesus can bring to peoples’ beliefs and behaviors and promotes inaction. Don’t label a difficult person as impossible to reach. Because we know the transforming power of God, we’re in the ministry of changing spots!

The next time you find yourself saying one of these old proverbs, stop to think about the truth behind the statement to be found in the Bible.