Much Said in Few Words

John W. Hodge
Longview, Texas

Have you ever heard a preacher say after he had preached about one hour and twenty minutes on a given subject, "I did not get to say all I wanted to say on the subject due to lack of time." Maybe if he had "boiled it down" to about forty-five moments and left out many of the details he could have gotten the truth over to the people.

When the disciples came to Christ with the request that he teach them to pray, he did so in a brief manner. When the world needed a "golden rule" to regulate all human relations, such was given in a few words. When Christ was ready to send the apostles out to preach the gospel to all the world, he gave his commission in a few words. Even the report of the first sermon and the results of it were reported by Luke in Acts 2 in concise form. When the duties of all chri8tians were written by inspiration, the epistles in which such are found are not of great length. Even the beauties of heaven and the horrors of hell are described in the Bible in brief manner. The full qualifications of elders are given briefly in Paul's writing to Timothy and Titus.

In view of this, may we not say that much has been said in a few words on most all subjects treated in the Bible? And oh how the preachers delight in filling in the details of what they think is necessary to "make the word of God effective" I Sometimes there is much loud preaching-facial pain shown-in the effort to make the word "stick" in the hearts of the hearers! Is truth and right so weak as to demand such on the part of the preachers? Is it thunder or lightening which kills? When I was a boy on the farm my father gave me a keen ax with which to chop wood. Said he, "Son, just lift this ax up and let it fall -- it is heavy enough and will cut the wood without extra effort -- don't try to force it."

If I had but one piece of advice to give to young gospel preachers it would be this: Prepare your lesson thoroughly -- put in that which is lacking as respects truth -- take out most of the details which will not help to enforce the truth. If this is done your sermons will be shorter-the people who hear you will be happier--and best of all, they will retain in memory what you have preached. You can give them too big a feed at one feeding, and you will begin to lose their interest in what you are telling them and in your work. The minds of the people, like an over-loaded stomach, will revolt at excesses.

Old brother Alfred Elmore, president of old Gunter Bible College, many years ago put it this way to a group of young preachers:

(1) "Have something to say-be prepared to say it

(2) Say it briefly

(3) And for the dear people's sake--quit." This advice somehow took hold of me and I have profited by it.

February 10, 1972