Profound or Pithy?

Bible proverbsI just saw a share on facebook. A photo with a saying and a scripture verse. The implication, of course, is that it’s a quote from the Bible.

Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one that finds the gold. Proverbs 11:27

Nice sentiment, isn’t it. Pithy even. Words to live by. But is that really what God’s word says? It doesn’t sound like it to me. Hmm. I feel compelled to look it up. I do this often when I see quotes that just don’t seem to add up scripturally. I grab my NIV that is here at my desk.

He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it. (NIV)

I’ve read it many times over looking for the similarity. Perhaps a hint at a paraphrase? I guess I’m just not that good, because I don’t see it. So I wondered exactly what translation the fb photo is from. On to a Google search for a comparison. I thoroughly enjoy the resources at my fingertips. I clicked on http://biblehub.com/proverbs/11-27.htm and found the following. (Now, I don’t know anything about this site or what its mission or goal is or who writes what or anything. I just happened to find a great list of comparison translations for this verse. Here is what is listed:

  1. New International Version
    Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.
  2. New Living Translation
    If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!
  3. English Standard Version
    Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it.
  4. New American Standard Bible 
    He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.
  5. King James Bible
    He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible
    The one who searches for what is good finds favor, but if someone looks for trouble, it will come to him.
  7. International Standard Version
    The person seeking good will find favor, but anyone who searches for evil—it will find him!
  8. NET Bible
    The one who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but the one who searches for evil–it will come to him.
  9. Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    He that seeks good seeks delight, and he that seeks evil, it will come upon him.
  10. GOD’S WORD® Translation
    Whoever eagerly seeks good searches for good will, but whoever looks for evil finds it.
  11. JPS Tanakh 1917
    He that diligently seeketh good seeketh favour; But he that searcheth for evil, it shall come unto him.
  12. New American Standard 1977 
    He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, But he who searches after evil, it will come to him.
  13. Jubilee Bible 2000
    He that seeks good early shall find favour, but unto him that seeks evil, it shall come upon him.
  14. King James 2000 Bible
    He that diligently seeks good procures favor: but he that seeks evil, it shall come unto him.
  15. American King James Version
    He that diligently seeks good procures favor: but he that seeks mischief, it shall come to him.
  16. American Standard Version
    He that diligently seeketh good seeketh favor; But he that searcheth after evil, it shall come unto him.
  17. Douay-Rheims Bible
    Well doth he rise early who seeketh good things; but he that seeketh after evil things shall be oppressed by them.
  18. Darby Bible Translation
    He that is earnest after good seeketh favour; but he that searcheth for mischief, it shall come upon him.
  19. English Revised Version
    He that diligently seeketh good seeketh favour: but he that searcheth after mischief, it shall come unto him.
  20. Webster’s Bible Translation
    He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come to him.
  21. World English Bible
    He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it shall come to him.
  22. Young’s Literal Translation
    Whoso is earnestly seeking good Seeketh a pleasing thing, And whoso is seeking evil — it meeteth him.

I’ve never heard of some of these translations. I also didn’t know there were so many. Okay, learned something new. But even with the 22 listed here, it’s not an exhaustive list. It’s missing one of my least favorite “translations”, The Message. In an effort to find where this quote/translation comes from, I looked up The Message translation, too. But even its translation doesn’t come close to the fb photo quote.

The one who seeks good finds delight; the student of evil becomes evil. The Message

I don’t know where the photo quote comes from, but it does not appear to be the Bible, and it definitely isn’t Proverbs 11:27, at least not according to these 23 different translations. And that is ultimately what concerns me. Our culture’s attempt to reduce God’s word to pithy, feel-good quips. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of feel-good stuff in God’s word; scripture to uplift and encourage and guide and instruct and train and empower and strengthen. But God’s word is so much more. Just looking at this verse, this one small verse, it clearly offers an encouragement for direction, but it also offers caution from what to steer clear.

Shares like the one I mentioned are tempting. It’s a nice saying; a feel-good saying. But I caution, be diligent in representing God’s word. His word doesn’t need our help. His word is powerful; don’t reduce it to pithy.

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