Honey and Spiders

Good illustrations come from a preacher’s own background. Charles Haddon Spurgeon kept bees. Some of his richest illustrations had to do with honey—its sweetness, the way it drips through your fingers, etc.

Jonathan Edwards as a young man studied and wrote a book on spiders. When he preached his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, one of the most powerful moments in the sermon came when he spoke of a human being hanging, suspended by a single spider’s web, over the gaping pit of hell.

So, preacher, you don’t have to go to the illustration books where you’ll find mostly stale material. You don’t have to steal your examples from other preachers. Talk about what you know best. Barnhouse used to say that the whole material world is illustrative of the spiritual. All you need is the eyes to see.

Come on, now. What are some of your hobbies? Interests? Pastimes? There is a wealth of illustrations there. How about your travel, adventures? Oh? You’re not an interesting person; you don’t go for trips in exotic lands? So what? Are bees, or honey, or spiders, or their threads exotic? Of course not. They were just things that Spurgeon and Edwards knew something about and they framed illustrations around that knowledge.

You know something—or you’re dead! So start ransacking your brain about matters in your everyday existence to find those illustrations that are packed away just waiting for the light of day to shine upon them. They will possibly be the very best illustrations you could ever use. Why? Because you can speak most confidently about that which you know well.

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