Any Text Will Do?
William Evans tells the story of a young preacher who asked, "What text should I choose for a sermon?" The answer he got: "Any text will do." Evans called this fatal advice. I agree.
Different texts are appropriate for different occasions.
Solomon said, "The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. (Proverbs 25:11 NCV) This implies it is possible to chose a wrong text and speak it at the wrong time.
Solomon warned, "If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” (Proverbs 27:14 NIV) The person loudly blessing their neighbor may be sincere and the blessing may be true, but it was the wrong timing.
Notice Jesus’ sensitivity and discernment as He refrains from saying something that would be more appropriate for a future occasion , “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” (John 16:12 NIV)
In his book, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America, Cal Thomas writes about a politician saying his favorite bible verse was John 16:3. The politician probably meant John 3:16, because John 16:3 says, “They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” If any text will do, then it didn’t matter what verse the politician quoted, but it did.
Can you imagine Satan asking Jesus to bow down and worship him, and Jesus quoting Psalms 22:22, “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.”
Not only is picking the right text important, but picking the right length of text is important, because of time limits and short attention spans. I love how Steven Furtick breaks up long texts with snippets of humor and insights. Long texts could also be paraphrased, leaving you more time to slow down and read the key text you want to highlight.
Since any text will not do, the question becomes, how do you pick a text for your sermon?