Don’t Make Up the Words

by Joanna Deffner on September 18, 2019

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think my siblings and I came out of the womb singing. We sang all the time, usually at the top of our lungs, and we never, ever, sang the right words.

I was a master at deriving my own lyrics to songs and/or filling in the gaps with my own etymological genius. I enjoyed such classics as “La Bumba,” “Orpal Achard of Love,” and “American By.” I sang them incorrectly so often, I was almost convinced my lyrical replacements were the correct words.

It wasn’t until I was older, did I learn the correct lyrics to songs. I not only had the right verification tools at my fingertips, but I had the desire to know the accurate words. Was it imperative I learn them? No—there weren’t any repercussions other than the potential embarrassment of singing the wrong words in public. But, aside from song lyrics, knowing the right words in other areas of our lives is quite important.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die (Genesis 3:1–3, KJV, emphasis added).

Developing our relationship with God keeps us busy, and rightly so. We attend church, have a prayer life, fast occasionally, read the Word of God, etc. In addition, we’re busy in our day-to-day life with work, school, appointments, etc. To be frank, there’s a lot to do and a lot to remember. Try as we like, we physically cannot remember everything perfectly.

When we try to recall what God’s said in His Word, it’s easy to forget. Drawing a blank, our minds try to fill the knowledge gaps by leafing through mental files of what we’ve read, seen, and heard. We contemplate: Did God say this or that? Am I sure God said it, or did I hear it somewhere else—in a book or conversation with someone? Maybe I’m confusing it with this Scripture… These thoughts can be dangerous: thoughts turn into words, and words into actions.

I hate picking on Eve, but she’s the poster child to illustrate my point. Confronted by the enemy, her knowledge of God’s Word was put to the test. As it turns out, she didn’t remember it 100% correctly, so she decided to throw in a few extra words. In many ways, Eve’s Scriptural addendum is a lot like my made-up lyrics. Neither of us remembered the right words, so we attempted to add our own. But, neither Eve nor I should have exercised this “creative” lyrical gene.

Plain and simple, we’ve got to know what’s in God’s Word. We can’t afford to make up our own versions of the Bible and/or fill it up with an amalgam of words we’ve heard throughout our life (I Timothy 4:7). If we don’t return to the source, we risk inserting false information into our minds. Over time, we’re in danger of believing something is in the Word of God that really, truly isn’t.

Eve and I wanted to rectify the “lost words,” but we didn’t go about it the right way. If you don’t remember God’s Word perfectly, it’s okay. But, here’s what you should do: Realize what you don’t know and immediately rectify the gap. Get in the Word and get a refresher. Study the Word of God so you can know what it says (II Timothy 2:15). Don’t add just any words or you’ll wind up looking foolish to the enemy and will damage yourself spiritually (Revelations 22:18–19).

Remember we’re all humans and can’t remember it all, but we have the Word available to help remind us. So, when we’re not sure, we can simply look it up. Just don’t make up the words.