It has been my experience that in many churches and circles of church folk, conferences, and the like, there seems to be a prevailing notion that needs to be dismissed out of hand. Too many times we are confusing illustrations with good sermonizing, in other words, we feel like a good illustration means the preacher proved his point. Friends, get this and get this good: Illustrations are pictures not proof. And despite popular opinion and cherished cliché, yes indeed, pictures can and do lie, quite often, in fact.
Pictures can and do lie because of our interpretation of them, we do not see things clearly, as the man in our text did not. We may not have the whole picture because it was manipulated. Some ministers give us bad pictures because they are using a carnal camera, or we see things out of focus through the lens of licentiousness.
Sometimes we don’t really have the big picture, only a small fraction of what is going on. How many times have we acted on incomplete evidence? Why do you think they tell the people in court to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? How many times have you seen something that looks like it is really what you need or want, but you found out that what you see isn’t always what you get? Paul Harvey has made a career of telling us the “rest of the story” behind events we thought we knew.
Of course, I just used some illustrations, didn’t I? We must remember, and not get carried away by the clever pictures someone paints for us. A scene is not a story, a frame is not a film, and a little information isn’t the whole situation. Proverbs 18:17 (NIV) says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” Just because something sounds good or looks good doesn’t mean it is good. We should be like the Bereans who were examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11 – ESV).
Illustration and analogy can be effective tools in helping us understand the richness of what we are hearing or reading, but they cannot replace the simple truth. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you cannot understand something without a story, learn to dig deeper. It will take time, but it will yield treasure. Then you can bring others to the deep truths of the bible with illustrations of your own, and lead others to discover for themselves the riches of God’s grace. Don’t let somebody steal your heart with a Kodak moment, get the truth from God’s Word for yourself, after all, pictures lie.