Beware of repeating what you have heard without verifying that it is true to Scripture. May the words of wisdom we repeat and the maxims we live by come from God Himself, untainted and untwisted by error.
“I cannot tell a lie,” young George Washington admitted. “I did cut down the cherry tree with my hatchet.” Of course, Washington never said that, nor did Lincoln or Einstein say half the memes attributed to them. Misquotes and false attributions litter the web. While researching for my recently published devotional book, I discovered that Christians of the past, too, have had words put into their mouths.
Misquoting Christian Figures
For example, I love this quote from David Brainerd: “Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.” This prayer fits Brainerd’s life perfectly, and I wanted to include it in my chapter highlighting how this early missionary lived God’s promises—except I could find no proof Brainerd actually said this. I borrowed Washington’s proverbial hatchet and chopped the apocryphal statement from my manuscript.
Ion Keith-Falconer, upon launching his ministry in Yemen in the late 1800s, purportedly said, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.” What a brilliant way of expressing his passion for taking the gospel where few had ever heard of Christ! A thousand blog posts ring with these words, but as I perused the original sources, none included this amazing quote. With reluctance, I axed it from my book.