Gospel Relevance

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6 Things Christians Should Stop Saying

What are some things that Christians should stop saying?

Well, I’m pretty sure that we all have that one friend that consistently says cheesy Christians clichés. I think most of us would agree that this is typically, well, very annoying. This is intensified when the sayings aren’t biblical. The motive behind saying them are usually noble, but they often simply aren’t true or helpful.

So, what are some of them?

Here are six things Christians should stop saying:

6 things Christians should stop saying

Photo Credit: isfaragoza.com

1) Let Go and let God. 

This phrase is typically used when in a trial. In a sense, I adore the “letting go” part if that means resting in God’s sovereignty, but when facing trials and tribulations, there are simply a lot of things that we can actually do. We can pray, study Scripture, confess sin, repent of sin, seek help from wise counsel, weep, meditate on Scripture, serve others, etc. “Letting go” has too much of a passive feel to it; it denotes that we do nothing. The truth is, it’s not so much that we should “let go and let God,” but that we should trust God and get going.

2) Christianity is not about a religion; it’s about a relationship.

Admittedly, this one might be the most controversial on the list. I’ve heard many high-profile Reformed Christians who I love and respect use this expression many times. Their heart behind saying it, I think, is to remind people that legalism is evil, and that justification is by grace through faith, not by obeying rules. This is a good reminder, however, I don’t agree with the entire statement.

I agree with the second part of the statement: Christanity is about a relationship. This is true — gloriously true — but let’s not forget this fact: Christianity is a religion and Christians are those who are religious. We are religious not to earn God’s love, but because we already have it. The New Testament is filled with imperatives that God expects us to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through grace-driven effort. Christianity is about a relationship and a religion; they go together. As Kevin DeYoung says, “It sounds really spiritual to say God is interested in a relationship, not in rules. But it’s not biblical. From top to bottom the Bible is filled with commands.”

3) God won’t give you more than you can handle. 

Not only is this not true, but I think the very opposite is true. Paul says, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia . . . For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we received the sentence of death” (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

Utterly burdened beyond our strength.

We despaired of life itself.

We felt that we received the sentence of death. 

To me, that sounds like more than Paul could handle. But why did God do this? Paul answers that in the second part of verse nine: “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” God gave Paul more than he could handle so that he could learn to rely on him.

4) I covet your prayers.

How about we just use “love” or “appreciate” instead of covet? Is it really necessary to use an archaic term — that is actually described as sin — in expression of gratitude for something?

5) Jesus is my homeboy. 

Jesus calls us his friends (John 15:15). This is breathtakingly true — that the Holy Son of God would dare associate with us, that he considers us his friends — but saying “Jesus is my homeboy,” to me, is just so utterly irreverent. It lacks reverence, it lacks awe, it lacks amazement. Jared Wilson adds to this, saying, “Jesus is not your copilot. He’s in the driver’s seat. And you’re in the back, on a stretcher.”

6) God showed up. 

I get it: Something supernatural happened and you want to be sure to give God the glory, you want to emphasize the work that only he could do. But, friends, it’s impossible for God to merely show up because he is omni-present; he is already and always everywhere at all times. He is never missing, never absent. It’s impossible for him to not be somewhere.

We’re not called to be cool; we’re called to be clear. But being cheesy — and especially through unbiblical statements — is not the remedy. We can cause damage if we flippantly give counsel just because it sounds spiritual. By knowing what the Scriptures actually teach, and by learning from other wise Christians, we can develop habits of saying things that aren’t off-putting and cheesy, but are actually encouraging and up-lifting.

You might also like:

1. 6 Things Christians Should Say More Often
2. The Top 3 Unforgettable Regrets of The Dying
3. The 3 Biggest Idols in Western Churches Today 

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more.

97 Replies

  1. Perfectly stated! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  2. So glad you included #3. I hear this from mature believers who really know better. Of course He gives us more than we can handle ALL the TIME.

    1. Agreed. It’s probably the most popular on the list.

  3. I would add: God is good. All the time. All the time God is good. This goes without saying and trivializes God’s goodness with a jingle. I cringe every time I hear it.

    1. Yeah, some people who say that aren’t truly admiring God’s goodness, but only the blessings that he gives. It can quickly be used irresponsibly.

  4. “Christianity is not about a religion; it’s about a relationship” I respectfully disagree with what you said there. I believe that statement is exactly true. I am not talking about religion as being a form of legalism. Religion means a set of beliefs. A lot of people believe they are save because the “believe in God.” That is great but so does the devil. To be saved is to be surrendered to Christ. For years I “believed” that Jesus was the Savior, the Son of God and the only way to heaven but I was not saved. It was not until I surrendered to Christ and became one with him that I was saved. That was done by the work of the Spirit, that is true. But when I was into religion, I was still on the path of destruction.

    1. I hear where you’re coming from, Marianne. I think the “not religion, but relationship” statement could be a reactive attempt to set Christianity *apart* from other religions/belief systems. The truth is, most people who are not believers do see Christianity as another religion because that’s the only categorical filter through which they *can* see it (especially if they have not honestly looked at the differences between Christianity and other religions/belief systems).

      In the past, I have said something along the lines of “Christianity is the only religion in which God is reaching down to man, on His terms, rather than man deciding how he will reach up to God.”

      Maybe another solution is, “Christianity is more than just a religion; it is the one way you can have a relationship with the living God who created the world.” (off the top of my head)

  5. “Jesus is not your copilot. He’s in the driver’s seat. And you’re in the back, on a stretcher.” Wow, that struck me like a pail of cold water in the face! He is in control, not us. We are in critical condition. Thanks for sharing that quote. Great post too!

    1. My pleasure. Love that quote too.

  6. #3 always gets me… He will absolutely give us more than we can handle. If He didn’t, we would have no need to call on Him, or to give Him the glory! We would be able to handle things on our own, with our own efforts. I believe God often gives us more than we can handle to prove to us that we can’t do it without Him. Great post!

    1. Thank you. And I agree!

  7. This was so funny, but totally true. Especially the God showed up one, Well isn’t he in us if we are saved? Doesn’t he never leave nor forsake us? lol! great post David!

    1. Haha. You are so right. And glad you got a kick out of it.

  8. Reblogged this on crystallives4jesus and commented:
    It’s not impossible for God not to be anywhere but it is His choice at times that He restrains from allowing His presence to intervene. Yet, I agree that He is everywhere, regardless of those who will not give Him authority, whether He’s in the cries of a baby, or in the buzzing sound of a bee or the waters, wind, and life itself. Thank you for this article because I couldn’t agree more as a radically transformed Christian from atheism and now able to see, hear and know Him, even though this is all of grace when it happened except for the fact that I, being less than a work, called out to a God that I desperately wanted to believe in. We are not worthy and I can tell by what all you wrote that you know the same and your a true follower of our Lord and Savior. I also give thanks to Angla Wittman for sharing this eye opening article for those who haven’t had the truth of the Homy Spirit pour into them yet. Let us pray that during their walk with God, as they stumble just as we do, that they’ll stop looking at God as a fairy tale and a winking jokester, just as satan would have one think.

  9. Reblogged this on The Salty Scrivener and commented:
    Here’s an interesting list!

  10. I appreciate this. The phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” must definitely be nuance even when we are against it. I’ve seen some go against this phrase because they think God can give us more than we handle without the caveat you add that it’s to make us rely on Him. Such a low view of God’s Sovereignty among some is problematic, if not even more so than those who originally give the slogan “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

    1. Yep. Agreed. That’s why it is important to understand God’s Providence in suffering.

      1. Amen. I think it further shows the importance to move beyond mere “slogans.”

  11. Some good “meaty”stuff to digest, David!! Some I use,some I’ve not heard of! Got me thinking -thank you. Reuben

  12. Referring to God as The Big Guy would appear on my list. Great article glad I found it.

    1. That’s a good add, Wally. Kind of goes in line with “Jesus is my homeboy.”

      1. That was my thought too David. Very flip and irreverent

  13. Nice list. I agree with you for the most part. I’m periodically guilty of trying to make the gospel “cool,” because I think it’s fun. I like having fun with God.

  14. Justin

    How about a “What to say instead” list?

    Instead: “People talk about ‘depending on God’ like it’s throwing a switch. But what do you think that actually means for you, right now? What does He have for you? How can we listen for that?”

    Instead: “Christianity is now about what, but why.”

    Instead: “God will not allow the powers of evil to go on hurting you forever. He always says ‘Enough!’ when the time comes.”

    Instead: “Please pray for me whenever you think of it.”

    Instead: “Jesus is willing to do the 3-legged-race-of-life tied to me…and stay with me whether I go fast or slow.”

    Instead: “God opened my eyes to some of the ways He was involved.”

    [Naturally, there are also many other alternatives — what else can y’all think of?]

    1. It’s helpful to think of things that we should say more often, and even in response to things we just shouldn’t say, like your comment just showed. Thinking about doing a follow up post about things Christians *should* say more often.

  15. Reblogged this on The Gospel According to Lucas and commented:
    This is a refreshing read!

  16. Re-blogged on The Gospel According to Lucas

    1. James Groover

      What most people don’t know or even come close to becoming aware of is that we simply can never restrict God and he can do by what we think or say. There are more than six billion people on this planet. Only two billion of then have ever heard of Jesus Christ. And yet the proponents of the Christian religion will fight to the very death that any who do not share their view are doomed to spend an eternity in hell. In short God loves Christians and hates the other two thirds of the world.. If we are all the creations of God how can that be true? Whatever we say, whatever we think, whatever we preach, the entire population of the world belongs to GOD and only GOD. Not just one third of it.. In my view if all the people of the world were created by God and are looked after by him, he can speak to any or all of them any time and in any manner he chooses. How can Christians hope to stop that? In short, no way stupid don’t even try to go there. It’s a dead end street.

  17. I don’t believe God is religion. God is Love*. And, expressed through Jesus, obediently! .

  18. Reblogged this on LIGHT in the Darkness and commented:
    Some pertinent thoughts here by David Qaoud.

  19. interesting and very inspiring. thanks

    1. Glad to hear. Thanks for reading.

  20. Thank you so much for this post. It made me re-think a couple of things; other points I was already in agreement with. One note on not being given more than we can handle: 1Co_10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    I realize this is talking about temptation, but when trials come sometimes it is a temptation to throw our hands in the air and give up. I believe God allows us to “get to the bottom of the barrel” so that we stop depending on ourselves. It is often more than we can handle in our own strength, but never too hard for our Lord. He is “the way of escape.”

    1. That’s a great refute, and a position I advocated at one point. But I’ve come to the to the conclusion that God *does* give us more than we can handle; this article helped me see that: https://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2009/07/20/everyday-theology-god-wont-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle/

  21. Reblogged this on A Sidekick's Blog and commented:
    A plea against Christian triteness…

  22. There are more! How about God is just testing you – because He loves you. Or, in His due time…, Or, this is all just another part of God’s plan. People sometimes say these things from their heart and sometimes to spite a person. When I had cancer, these little phrases were not comforting, but I knew when they came from heart. And I understood that when people resorted to phraseology, it meant they didn’t know what else to say –

  23. Hello David! Enjoyed your Blog. Personal favorite on your list is #3. Thankful, never heard Jesus referred to as Homeboy! Looking forward to reading more of your posts. I am new to blogging, and you blessed me with your “like” today:)

  24. David, thanks so much for this post. And, I especially appreciate the quote “Jesus is not your copilot. He’s in the driver’s seat. And you’re in the back, on a stretcher.” I have always thought of Jesus as my driver — copilot certainly gives me too much authority — but I never put the rest of the thought on it. But, I can specifically relate since this past August I fell in Denali National Park, breaking my ankle, and leaving the park in an ambulance driven by the park ranger. Being on the stretcher as it bounced along the road there was a profound feeling of total helplessness — couldn’t see or react to anything. But, even then, God was present and comforting, preparing the way for an experience in Alaska that I would not exchange for anything. So, I love the thought. Also, I appreciate the Reformed perspective that you bring. Blessings to you in your work. Thanks, too, for liking The Ruminant Scribe; I am new to blogging and I appreciate your liking the entry. My first blog was Vacations and Divine Appointments, and it details the trip in Alaska with the fateful fall and God’s outpouring of His love.

    1. Linda, sorry about your ankle. Thanks for sharing about how God got you through that time. It’s always amazing how he works things out.

  25. I admit this post has be rethinking a lot of things that I’ve said over the years. I really don’t have a problem with any of these ordinarily except the “homeboy one.” We are to revere the name of Jesus and while He is closer to us than even a best friend, I think saying that He’s a homeboy or some equivalent unduly lessens His majesty in the eyes of the world. I appreciate your stance on this topic. It’s definitely worth me reblogging!


  26. Reblogged this on Better Not Bitter and commented:
    Man this post really made me reconsider some of the things I’ve said over the years…it’s worth you taking a look too.

  27. Reblogged this on A tale of a t-rex and commented:
    I have heard every single one of these in some form or another, and it drives me crazy. Yes, as Christians we love God. We know he is always with us, and we want others to experience that same love. But why do we insist on turning everything in life, including God, into a cliche? We come off sounding insincere and fake. God is not a catchy tag line, like singing jingles for car dealers and toy stores. By having so little respect for Him you are diminishing Him in your own eyes and in the eyes of nonbelievers who may be watching you. Too often I see people I go to church with post on Facebook after service, “God really showed up and showed out this morning.” I know what they mean, but to read their post in the literal sense they make it sound like God is not always in our church. And the phrase, “show out” to me has negative meaning. As in, “my child got in trouble at school today for showing out in music class.” Why can’t we speak from our heart? Why do we look for the easiest way out by resorting to insincere cliches when speaking of our love for God? How would we feel if God treated us like a cliche?

    Until next time . . .

  28. The one that makes me cringe every time is when Jesus is described as “100% man, 100% God”. That’s just bad math!

    1. What do you mean? You don’t believe he’s fully God *and* fully man?

      1. I don’t see how it’s possible. There would have to be some concessions on either his humanness or his Godliness. For example, having to go to all the trouble of being crucified and resurrected seems like a bit of unnecessary drama if he is fully all-powerful God. If he was fully all-knowing God, how would he be able to experience human feelings of doubt, fear, and helplessness when he knows how things are going to play out?

        1. Interesting. I believe Jesus was fully God and fully man; when he came to earth he added to it humanity, without losing his divinity.

          1. Jesus being seen as divinity in humanity I can understand. It’s the “fully” part twice that can’t pass the logic testers in my mind. Same as when an athlete says they will give 110%. It comes across as a figure of speech rather than a description of reality, and in understanding existence we should be careful not to trivialize matters with figures of speech.

            That’s my point of view at least, for what it’s worth.

    2. Jason, you are looking at Christ being fully man and fully God as something that doesn’t seem possible to you. Does it seem possible that God always was or that he spoke the worlds into existence or breathed into the dust and formed man. Sometimes you have to realize that while our minds are finite, the power of God is not. We aren’t going to understand everything. I cannot begin to fathom eternity.

      1. Marianne, I am looking at it mathematically while the expression seems to be looking at it figuratively.

        Can a cup be 200% full? No. If you fill it twice, half of it will spill over.

    3. Once again, you are relying on your finite mind for understanding. In the same manner, can you explain three persons in ONE God? Your math will only go as far as the limits of your own mind. God’s ways are higher. You cannot comprehend.

      1. If you look at human understandings of the world around us, math has gone quite a long way! To give in to a view that we can not comprehend things seems like an excuse to not find understanding. As it turns out, the world around us is incredibly consistent and we can and should seek further understanding. Did God put us here to live life mindlessly in awe and not seek understanding? I hope not!

  29. Rose

    Okay. So I’m guilty of a few of these. I love this post, and totally agree with the points you make. I’m off to read more of your stuff.

  30. If anything we say or do is not driven by our relationship with God, it’s legalism!

  31. David, good blog. I think the reason so many people use the 2nd phrase is because the idea of religious behavior does not necessarily indicate faith. We religiously brush our teeth, or comb our hair. In the same way, some religious institutions practice certain rituals or ordinances that do not glorify God but appease our need to “do something” to show our faith. Relationship is an indication of a personal connection to God that doesn’t require us to perform rituals. Yes, Christianity is a religion, but one that is based on a relationship that doesn’t require anything more than faith and declaration of our dependance on Christ. Saved by grace and not by works so that no man should boast.

    1. Yep, I see what you’re saying. And I agree. I mention that i brief when I say I advocate saying this if we’re reminding people that salvation is by grace, not by obeying the rules.

  32. Thank you for stopping by and reading my recent blog “Do You Dare Answer?”, I appreciate the “like”. I completely agree with what you are saying here. We are guilty of not only using cliches but quoting scripture out of context as well. God bless.

  33. Good review. I just purchased it based on your recommendation. It’s always good to be armed with the facts.

    1. Great to hear. You’ll enjoy the book, Jason.

  34. Beautiful work David! Indeed God gives us more than we can handle because His grace is available to us!

  35. Reblogged this on The Living Message of Christ and commented:
    A very useful and TRUE post. I know that you will enjoy it.

  36. Great thoughts here! I like the “We’re not called to be cool; we’re called to be clear.” Good reminder.

  37. #3 is my favorite – or I should say, my #1 pet peeve. 🙂 Thanks for calling that out.

    1. Mine too. I love whistle blowing when appropriate. 🙂

  38. I too find the one about God not giving us more than we can handle a myth. I grew up with that one, although it was worded a little differently – something along the lines of God not giving us more crosses than we can bear. But I learned from personal experience and that of family and friend, , and just watching and reading the news, that it sure isn’t true.

  39. Thanks very much for the wonderful examples here…so well put and very, very, true. I may have to steal a verse or two for my blog!

    1. I sometimes hear Christians use OMG. Unless they are talking to the Lord and are reverently addressing him, they ought not say that. Far too many non Christians use that expression. Let’s not be like the world.

      I also hate it when people say, “God meets your needs, not your greeds.” While our heavenly Father provides for us, people often use this expression to criticize Christians. To me, it shows plenty of inconsideration for suffering saints, especially for those who have unmet needs.

      “Prayed up” is another one I dislike. It sounds like magic to me. Of course we must pray regularly but Christians treat prayer like topping up their gas tank as well as a spell to ward off evil. God often uses crises to stretch our faith in him. Remember that we are in the school of faith and that the tests our Lord allows us to go through are to teach us dependence on him.

  40. Great post. I would like to add a comment for No 3; When christians quote this particular scripture to back up their statement that God won’t give you more than you can handle, they are actually taking it out of context. The verse is all about temptation and providing a way out of them. It has nothing to do with trials, suffering, and tribulations.

  41. Excellent!! I agree with you! Some cliches , I believe do more harm than good. For the unsaved, these annoying comments (as you mentioned) do come off as offensive. We have to be careful though. To the world the Gospel is offensive because it tells them what they do not want to here.

    Kimberly Baratta
    No Greater Love for You

  42. It’s about definition. To me, religion is thinking you can obey God (same as “hear God” in Hebrew) without the help of the Holy Spirit. Many people think honoring their religion is to go into a crowded market and kill people with a bomb or shoot an abortion doctor. The Crusades were fueled by religious soldiers. If the Holy Spirit truly indwells (the relationship we get to have as humans on earth in physical bodies), by the fact that one is “born again” (John 3:5), then honoring God is a privilege and a calling, not a duty or an excuse to kill people. I know a lot of religious Christians who are not born again and therefore complain a lot as they do the “Lord’s work.” In other words, they don’t have a willing heart, and that comes of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ, who did everything with a willing heart. If you have the relationship with God first and ask for His Spirit (Luke 11:13) the rest will follow. That’s why “love God” is the first commandment. The other becomes “natural” over time as you allow Him to kill the enemy within (think Exodus and Joshua), and start loving the people around you (the second greatest command).

  43. On #6 (God showed up) – there is a fantastic comment I believe first made by A. W. Tozer in his book ‘The Persuit of God’ where he differentiates God’s omnipresence from His manifestation. Surely, God is everywhere at any given time. However, it is only when He ‘manifests’ Himself into our realm that we can sense His presence and thus say the phrase. This clarification was a real eye-opener for me.

    And thanks David for stopping by my blog. Blessings.

  44. I enjoyed this post, David. I agree with your thoughts. I especially like # 3. I have been parked on this thought for some time. If we could handle everything that came our way, well, we wouldn’t need God. At all. “I can’t” is when God will get all the glory.

    1. Very true, Karen. I agree.

  45. Hey there David, what a great post. You “nailed it” in more ways than one. You are so right about these being trite and often irreverent. Glad you are thinking about your next post on what to say instead and I think your followers have given you a head start.

  46. Excellent post. I liked how you quickly and nearly summed everything up while keeping it all very simple and easy for anyone to understand.

  47. This is a great post and so true. As a pastor I cringe when I hear many of these and I bite my tongue when I am about to offer one of these. Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog.

  48. Fully agreed! And thanks for stopping by my recent blog post, too! Blessings and peace…

  49. Wow! You’ve generated a lot of discussion here! I like your courageous voice in this post and your challenge to our lazy platitudes!

  50. David,

    Well said. I imagine the “God won’t give you more than you can handle” originally cropped up in the context of temptation but has since been applied to everything (See 1 Cor. 10:13).


  51. Wonderful! I hate to be corrected, or put in my place. I know I make mistakes but few people have earned the right to correct me. Its a ginger thing! However reading this did not feel like a 5 night revival on a hard church pew with no AC. You pointed out the wrong and explained why it was wrong!! I believe in order to be light we must lead by example and step softly. When you tell me I am in the wrong be prepared to tell me why. I love this and will be sharing with my husband. I ask a devote man of God one time about gambling.(the actual word gambling does not appear in the bible, at least I couldn’t find it.) I do not play the lottery or buy scratch off tickets nor do I tell others they are wrong for doing it. I however will buy a raffle ticket from the local little league as my strong willed, tell everyone what she thinks mother in law stares at me in disgrace. The old preacher answered my question with a question “does it condemn you?” I try to think on that every time I feel the least bit of a second thought.

  52. This is beautifully written. I think sometimes people mistake your correct point in #3 for 1 Corinthians 10:13? Someone else may’ve already made this point, I did not read all your comments. And thank you for visiting my blog!

    1. Yes, you are correct. And yes, you are right – someone did bring up that point. It’s common that someone usually does. Thanks for the encouragement.

  53. Subbaraman Nagapatnam Viswanat

    A great write. Congrats.