The words we use to direct our life have a good or a bad impact on who we are. Consider some common motivational sayings compared with the words of God.
Do you have words you live by? What about phrases you look to depending upon the situation you’re in?
Whether they take the form of mottos, slogans or motivational sayings, words can have an impact on us. Some people use motivational slogans as a way of coping with difficult situations or as guidance for day-to-day life.
Whose words are we following?
Some of the more common words and phrases people use may sound like they have some type of spiritual origin, but often they’re anything but biblical. That should be no surprise—we live in a world determined to seek its own way and follow its own guidance—a world that believes it knows best.
Yet God’s Word is the foundation on which Christians should stand. Jesus tells us in John 6:63, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
There’s a stark difference between our human nature and God’s nature. When we compare modern mottos, self-motivational expressions and personal catchphrases to the words of God, we see that they are often incompatible.
Motivational slogans vs. words of life
Let’s take a look at some of the popular slogans and sayings that some see as wise words to live by—and then compare them to God’s words.
1. “Be true to yourself”
The idea of being true to ourselves may sound harmless, but underneath it’s really about putting our sense of self above all else. This is an attitude of doing what feels right to us, instead of doing what is morally, ethically and spiritually right according to God’s Word.
Being true to yourself can lead you into all sorts of trouble—impure behaviors, disobedience to parents, unfaithfulness in marriage, dishonesty and a myriad of other unrighteous actions.
In contrast, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself” (Matthew 16:24, emphasis added throughout).
Truly following God’s Word requires us to change our priorities—not putting self first. A Christian must strive to follow Jesus’ example and deny anything that is not of God, just as Jesus denied every temptation presented to Him by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).
2. “Just believe in yourself”
There is nothing wrong with being confident or humbly acknowledging our strengths. The danger lies in the pride that comes from forgetting our abilities come from God—or, even worse, willfully ignoring His influence in our lives. When we leave God out of the picture, we’re left to rely only on ourselves.
If our true reliance is on the Father and the Son, we can find strength and confidence in any situation. The physical worries of life can be overcome by the spiritual strength we find when we put our trust in God and lay our troubles upon Him (Psalm 55:22).
3. “You can have it all”
The desire to “get” is one of the most dangerous attitudes we can have. When we set our hearts on the physical, we quickly lose sight of the spiritual. And as a result, we start to hedge on and break God’s rules, including the 10 Commandments.
Following our hearts—doing what seems right to us—can lead us far from God’s way of life.Jesus asks us in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
This is a warning!
We cannot “have it all” in this physical world, and trying to have it all means neglecting the things of God (Matthew 6:24). A Christian is instructed to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (verse 33). God’s laws should always come before the physical attractions of the world.
4. “Live your truth”
We live in a world that frames truth as subjective. We frequently see this mindset displayed as confirmation bias—where a person believes only the information that supports his or her own point of view or desired outcome, while disregarding any evidence to the contrary. This mindset is prominent within emotionally charged issues like gender identity, abortion rights and politics.
Sadly, truth is frequently distorted or simply dismissed based on personal agenda.
Living by truth is not a matter of personal experience or opinion, but of following Jesus’ example and living by every word of God (Matthew 4:4).
5. “Follow your heart”
God tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Following our hearts—doing what seems right to us—can lead us far from God’s way of life.
Jesus explained, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me,” and, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).
If we follow our own desires instead of Jesus’ example, we can lose our spiritual connection to God, either by dismissing or displeasing God. But if we resist the pulls of this physical life, we can gain access to eternal life in the family of God.
When we compare modern mottos and self-motivational phrases to the words of Jesus Christ, it becomes clear that the thoughts of man can be far removed from God’s thoughts.
As Christians, we must live our lives according to the words written in the Bible. Though not every slogan or saying we stumble on will be wrong, we are always on solid ground when our lives are guided by the words found in God’s Holy Scriptures.
If we weigh every decision, every desire, every action, every thought against the words of both Jesus Christ and God the Father, we’ll find that Their words are truly words we can live by—today and for all eternity.