Sermon Illustrations
Posted by Douglas on Jul 09, 2018

This morning my son and I were planting trees again. The first part of the process was to dig eighteen holes, and pour a bucket of water into each hole. So right after breakfast we got a wagon, filled two five-gallon buckets of water, added a spade, and headed for the field where we're planting.

While I dug the holes, my son scooped water and poured it into holes so there would be plenty of moisture in the soil when we planted the trees. The temperature was already on the rise, and I was dripping with sweat, so I wasn't in a good mood to argue with my son when he told me, "Daddy, I don't want to do this. The grass is wet, and it's getting my feet wet."

"Well, it needs to get done," I said.

"Why do we have to do it now, when the grass is so wet?"

And here's where I was tempted to use that famous line, "Because I said so." It's quick and easy to say, and doesn't even interrupt the work I was doing. After a moment's thought, though, I put the shovel down and said, "Do you know why the grass is wet here?"

"Because of the dew?"

"Mmm hmm. Come here," I said, as I walked up the hill, and out of the shade. "The grass isn't wet here. That's because it's not in the shade, and it is really hot here, isn't it?"

Then I pointed back down the hill at the tree holes, which were all in the shade. "If we wait for the grass to dry off, then all of that will be in the sunlight, and it'll be hot, and that'll make the work twice as hard."

Armed with that understanding, he agreed that it was better to do it now.

Don't get me wrong, I think that there are times that "because I said so" is a legitimate answer; I do think that children should be taught and trained that obedience is important even when they don't understand the reason for it. But I also think it makes sense, in most cases, to explain my reasoning to my children when I'm able to do so.

This is a very common pattern in scripture, and if you look for it, you'll find it everywhere. God gives an instruction, and then he explains the reason for it.

Every time you find a "for" or a "therefore" or a "because" in scripture, think about it carefully. It's likely that you'll find that God is explaining himself and his instructions to his children. 

To illustrate this, I randomly opened my Bible to Philippians 4, where I read this:

4:1Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.Philippians 4:1 (ESV)

The command is to stand firm, but the word "therefore" precedes the command, which suggests that in the previous verses Paul explained the reason for the command:

3:20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)

Why stand firm? Because we have a citizenship and a glory ahead of us that outweighs any burden or struggle that faces us now.

I encourage you to read scripture looking for these kinds of pairings, and express your gratitude to God that he didn't just say, "Because I said so," but took the time to explain his commands. And, of course, always be ready to obey, out of trust and submission, whenever an explanation is not given.

Did you know? The most commonly used sharing button on this site is the "Print" button. Please consider also sharing our content on social media to help others find us!
Popular tags
Christian life, Jesus, character, love, integrity, trouble, hiking, mountains, children, heaven, music, the church, gifts, contentment, 1 Peter 2:4, God's will, scripture, foundation, heart, 1 Peter 2:1, perseverance, sermon on the mount, Philippians 4:8, faithfulness, devotion, sin, Romans 12:2, spiritual discipline, 2 Corinthians 3:18, art, renewal, human nature, salvation, hope, faith, humility, responsibility, interpretation, listening, materialism, justice, behavior, Galatians 6:1, self-control, envy, Philippians 4:11, 2 Peter 1:5, creation, blessings, Psalms 103:13, Philippians 2:3, beauty, Matthew 6:26, excellence, servanthood, age groups, strength, Hebrews 12:2, teaching, stability, obedience, 1 John 5:3, generosity, Titus 2:11, death, the gospel, deceit, commandments, selfishness, Christmas, Colossians 4:6, context, 1 Peter 1:17, 1 Peter 2:19, Psalms 95:7, cleansing, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Philippians 2:1, ambassadors, wisdom, Psalms 8:3, Philippians 4:9, kindness, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 2:21, Psalms 29:3, Leviticus 19:32, culture, unity, Philippians 2:9, walking the talk, James 1:2, mind, Genesis 9:6, imitating, Proverbs 25:16, Psalms 73:18, Galatians 6:2, Luke 2:10, Psalms 29:9, respect, James 1:17, Colossians 3:12, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Matthew 22:37, James 2:10, Proverbs 25:17, Psalms 73:2, family, Incarnation, glory, John 4:34, Ecclesiastes 4:9, Numbers 32:23, Psalms 40:8, 1 Peter 2:12, 2 Timothy 4:3, Psalms 84:10, grace, Epiphany, Romans 14:6, fellowship, John 8:34, Philippians 4:1, Luke 14:12, gentleness, Matthew 5:36, Isaiah 40:4, judgment, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:19, power, Philippians 3:20, honor, diligence, Psalms 17:8, 1 Peter 2:6, John 1:23, Matthew 28:19, 1 Peter 2:22, regeneration, Galatians 6:5, Psalms 66:18, 1 Peter 2:11, meekness, 1 Corinthians 13:7, attention, disappointment, Matthew 15:11, Matthew 10:5, comparisons, Matthew 11:30, prayer, light, sojourners, John 13:15, Matthew 6:25, Hebrews 10:24, preaching, Proverbs 25:8, discipleship, John 14:3, Psalms 1:1, Genesis 2:7, Deuteronomy 32:4, Ecclesiastes 11:1, John 10:1, Matthew 6:34, 1 Peter 2:2, peace, John 11:35, Luke 12:34, Christ's return, counsel, Romans 8:24, Ecclesiastes 1:4, Matthew 15:18, John 6:38, voice, James 1:19, Psalms 95:8, Proverbs 3:5, resurrection, Luke 12:32, Revelation 22:20, cooperation, patience, 1 Peter 3:3, Ecclesiastes 7:2, Ecclesiastes 11:4, Jeremiah 17:9, the good shepherd, Hebrews 12:15, public speaking, trust, grief, treasure, 1 Corinthians 15:1, Micah 6:8, 1 Peter 1:7, John 14:21, anger, John 16:33, Matthew 18:3, priorities, delayed gratification, James 5:5, Galatians 3:19, Psalms 50:10, math, suffering, bitterness, Titus 2:13, 1 Corinthians 15:30, Psalms 51:7, John 14:6, Philippians 2:12, 2 Corinthians 5:20, the law, 2 Corinthians 9:7, logic, 1 Peter 1:6, work, 1 John 4:19, John 10:10, danger, Titus 3:4, Colossians 1:16, Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 12:22, Isaiah 35:4, John 14:24, James 1:23, Deuteronomy 6:5, Romans 3:23, Matthew 7:12, Colossians 1:15, 1 Peter 1:18, Proverbs 25:13, truth, Matthew 5:37, body of Christ, Matthew 20:26, John 5:36, James 1:5, Revelation 5:2, golden rule