Old Wives Tales

Most of us know at least a few Old Wives Tales.  I came across some doosies. Like if the first calf born in the winter is a white one the winter will be bad.  That’s really unfortunate for Charolais breeders.  Or that it’s bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match – likely because you’ll burn your fingers.

Even within my own lifetime I have heard (and believed) certain old wives tales.  Like that going outside with wet hair will give you a cold.  Or shaving makes your hair grow in thicker and darker.  Never pluck a grey hair or thirty will grow in its place.  Feed a cold and starve a fever.  Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. If you swallow your gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years.  Don’t go swimming for a half hour after eating or you’ll get cramps and drown.

All of these axioms have been shown to be false, but I’d bet many of you not only knew of them but at some point held stock by some of them.  You may even be shocked that I’m questioning the veracity of one or two of them.

Whether you believe me or not about these (but I am right) really isn’t too important, but the Bible warns against falling for common myths and old wives tales when it comes to spiritual matters.  (See 1 Timothy 4) The trouble is these can be a little harder to spot because they usually contain a grain of truth, or maybe sound spiritual.  Sayings like “God helps those who help themselves,” or “God wants you to be happy,” or that “all religions will lead to God.”  These are patently false and against what the Bible teaches.

So how is a person able to discern the true doctrines of scripture from old wives tales? (Doctrine simply means teaching so don’t let the fancy word intimidate you.)  It may seem to be stating the obvious, but read the bible.  Some of you may object, thinking that it’s just too hard to understand.  Let me give you two suggestions.  First get a hold of a more recent translation that has been written to be more easily read, such as the New Living Translation, though there are other good ones as well.  But even more important, ask God to help you understand what you are reading.  He has promised he will.

Too many of us for too long have depended on others to tell us what is truth and what is error.  But that’s like getting married and only visiting your spouse for an hour a week.  You’ll never really get to know someone that way.


About David Berg

I live in a small town in Alberta, Canada. I pastor a small Baptist church and also work half-time on a local seed farm. It has been more than 25 years that I have been married to a most amazing and beautiful lady whose name is Wendy. Together we have three boys, and two beautiful daughter-in-laws. View all posts by David Berg

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