All of us have seen wall plaques containing scripture verses, mottoes, or poems in many homes. Have you ever stopped to think what some of these say or mean? If you have, I am sure you will find many deviating from our reformed doctrines especially if they are misinterpreted as many are. So often we find only part of a verse quoted on these plaques; a fact which very easily leads to misunderstanding since all texts should be interpreted in the light of their context. Then many of them go unnoticed day after day by the people in whose homes they are found because their eye has grown accustomed to seeing that little dark speck on the wall, hardly realizing what it is. If only we could live up to these, but many bear silent testimony against us as we go about our daily tasks, deeply engrossed in only our own carnal interest. There is another danger in such things, that is, that they tend to make an outward show of our religion. Would not the Pharisee of old delight in having his home filled with such pious displays? Often plaques attempt to portray Christ and of course this is always based upon human imagination which is truly incapable of making a likeness of Christ.
Let us take a look at some of the typical sayings we may find. I once noticed a very striking plaque in the form of a little command, namely, “Do not do anything that you would not want to be doing when Jesus comes.” It immediately reminded me that we must truly be prepared for the coming of Christ when He shall judge all peoples. No man knoweth the day and hour, but let us not be found as the five foolish virgins with no oil in our lamps. However, we must be careful not to interpret this wrong. We should not say then that the only reason we must not do that which is improper is because we would not want to, like the little boy with his face smeared with jam after a raid on the cupboard, “be caught at it” if Christ were to come. We should do right at all times, being examples to others.
Usually these plaques try to touch only upon the pleasant things of this life. For instance, “Jesus never fails” or “God is love.” Is it not just as appropriate to say “God is a consuming fire?” But, that sounds a little too harsh for most people. Also when Christ is pictured, He is usually shown as a kind, loving, gentle shepherd, which He certainly is, but He has also rebuked hypocrites, even likening them to whited sepulchers. Do you ever see Him portrayed as such?
A very poor motto is the one saying, “Prayer changes things”. Is it really prayer that changes things or is it the work of God? Indeed we must pray without ceasing, but prayer to be acceptable must be sincere and in faith and truly everyone cannot pray in faith.
A very common verse is “Christ is the Head of this house, the unseen Guest at every meal, the silent Listener to every conversation.” Christ, to be sure, should be the Head of every Christian home and always is a witness of all our thoughts, words and deeds.
Because of the war a new fad for “patriotic Christian” plaques has arisen. Most of these contain verses whose meanings have been misinterpreted. The word “peace” is often used referring to peach following this war, but a text is used with it which means the peace which passes all understanding as a verse like II Thessalonians 3: 16, “The Lord of peace, Himself give us peace.” Another appealing word is the much emphasized “Victory” of today, misused often with a verse like “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” I John 5:4. A desire for liberty and freedom is frequently expressed by John 8:32. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Certainly, these texts, in their proper interpretation are fine and it is a shame to abuse them by such false applications.
Scripture texts which contain in themselves complete thoughts are very fitting plaques; such as: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28. Or “We have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Romans 5:1. And “Because I live, ye shall live also”. John 14:19.
Let us therefore be careful of the mottos we select!
Am I a soldier of the Cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies,
On flow’ry beds of ease;
While others fought to win the prize,
And sail’d thru bloody seas?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign:
Be faithful to my Lord,
And bear to toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war,
Shall conquer tho’ they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.