John Crist mocks the stereotypical “Bible quoter” lady in his video “Lady who has a Bible verse for every situation”:
However, this lighthearted piece does bring up a more serious question: Does the Bible really have a verse for “every situation”?
A close look reveals both the reality and the limits of this approach.
First, the Bible is a huge book. It includes 1,189 chapters and 66 books, making it an anthology of writing from the history of Judaism and early Christianity. Simply its sheer size allows it to touch on many areas of life.
Second, Scripture does teach it is useful for teaching and training (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There are principles for every major area of life, whether marriage, finances, education, career, or health.
The reality of Scripture addressing every area of life does have its limits. For example, a church nursery near my home has the following Scripture on the wall:
“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” -1 Corinthians 15:51
Someone thought it would be funny to equate the transformation of believers with Jesus forever with changing diapers. Nice try, but this is far beyond the context of the verse.
On a more serious note, many parents have been frustrated over a prodigal or rebellious child. They had been taught Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Unfortunately, this verse is not a recipe for a godly child. It is a proverb, an observation on life that is generally true. Yes, it is often true that parents who raise their child to know right from wrong will have a son or daughter turn out well.
But this is not automatic. There are many examples of godly parents raising their children to do what is right only to discover a son or daughter who completely rejects the faith and values of his or her parents.
I encourage people to find the balance between the Bible’s teachings and daily life. There may not be a verse for every situation, but there is a principle for every situation.
Don’t know where to eat for lunch? There is no verse for this, but I’m guessing the verses about taking care of our body and being responsible with our time and money still apply.
Not sure where to attend (or whether to attend) church Sunday? Hebrews 10:25 is clear about the importance of Christian community, but less specific about the details of how this is accomplished. However, there are some guidelines about what the first church considered important (Acts 2:42). It’s also clear God wants his people to show love to one another while speaking truth on life’s issues (Ephesians 4:15).
When we look at the balance Scripture offers, there is much more freedom than we often find in churches (or Christian books and media on the topic). Enjoy God’s Word, enjoy life, while honoring the Creator throughout your day (Ecclesiastes 121).
Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and blogs about his experiences of handwriting the Bible at the Holy Writ Project on Patheos.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook or Twitter.