Use Word Pictures to Help Drive Truth Home

10 Tips to Transform Your Teaching—Part 7

In the last six articles we have seen how to preach Bible stories by using running narrative, why preachers should be transparent in their sermons, the importance of keeping your sermons biblical, balanced, and brief, why you must let your sermons change you before preaching them to others, how to unlock Bible passages with word studies, and the importance of preaching for decisions. Let’s see another tip that can transform your delivery:

8. Metaphors Are the Key to Lasting Communication

Outside of Christ, there is no greater communicator in the Bible than Solomon. Proverbs is a book of metaphors. One common denominator to all great preaching other than the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is a metaphor. A metaphor uses the imagination to picture your point.

When you give a metaphor, you have just brought your audience into your message. You are no longer just preaching to them, you are preaching with them. When you prepare your messages, ask the Lord for word pictures, you may even use an object lesson, but don’t let your metaphors run too long. Try to have something that will help people picture what you are showing them.

Here are some metaphors found in the book of Proverbs that give great word pictures on their own:

  • Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” In other words, the more you walk in the will of God, the more you see the will of God. And you can picture this as a light getting brighter and brighter. It’s a word picture about discovering God’s will.
  • Proverbs 5:3, “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:” It’s sweet and slippery isn’t it? Isn’t that a great word picture?
  • Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:” What a metaphor! Slothful people should study the ant. The ant is a living word picture of the way we are supposed to be. Your imagination becomes a part of it.
  • Proverbs 7:22, “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter,” That guy is going to kill himself. He has no idea where he is going with that pornography or that sin. He has no idea it’s going to kill him.
  • Proverbs 10:11, “The mouth of the righteous man is as a well of life:” You can draw water and life from the righteous.
  • Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” This is a great one for youth pastors. You have to have oxen to do the plowing. And oxen need to be cleaned up after. A pastor would be great without people, but he wouldn’t get anything done.

    I remember when I was a youth pastor this was almost my life verse. If you’re going to have teens, you’re going to have to clean the stalls. But there is strength by the ox. That word picture can carry the truth in your mind the rest of your life.
  • Proverbs 15:17, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” It’s better to eat at McDonald’s where there is love than at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse where there’s hate.
  • Proverbs 17:12, “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.” A fool is more dangerous than an angry bear. That’s something we will want to avoid!
  • Proverbs 20:27, “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” This is the closest mention to the conscience in the Old Testament.
  • Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” This is my all-time favorite metaphor. Every one of us can picture a dog going back to its vomit and eating it. How many times has that metaphor kept me away from sin?

The great communicators of the world have one common denominator to their communication—metaphors.

This is part seven of this series. Click here to read part eight.

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