Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

The Heart - a Cup or a Scale?

It seems that folks sometimes offer biblical encouragements—“fear not,” “do not be anxious,” and so on—as if the heart were a cup full of fear or anxiety that needs to be emptied of those emotions so it can be filled with alternative emotions. (However), it fails to understand that sorrow, fear, and anxiety are not always sinful emotions. In fact, such emotions may constitute appropriate responses to the loss (actual or threatened) of real goods.

The heart is more like a scale. Specifically, a “balance scale,” the kind often used as a symbol for justice because its two sides weigh different arguments and positions in the process of reaching a true and righteous judgment.

A proper use of biblical encouragements and exhortations will take this picture of the heart into account. … Instead, biblical encouragements should be offered as counterweights. Doing so might look like this:

I know your heart is (rightly) heavy with sorrow due to the loss of some good thing(s), that it is overwhelmed by present circumstances, that it is uncertain of what tomorrow may bring. However, let me offer you a counterweight, not to remove these emotions (the cup metaphor) but to place them in relation to a larger reality: the reality of God’s sovereign goodness, attention, and purpose, which offer solid reasons for encouragement and hope in the midst of trial.

These “counterweights” do not remove the other “weights” of our hearts. Rather, they provide consolations that enable our hearts to bear the weights of sorrow, anxiety, and fear in this vale of tears, until we arrive at our destination of unmixed, unshakeable beatitude in the presence of the triune God.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Stories of Kindness Ease Bad News

Kathryn Buchanan was driving to work when she heard horrific news on the radio: Twenty-two people were killed in a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. ...

[Read More]

Seeing Jesus in the Dark

When I was a student at Harvard Divinity School, I learned preaching from Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City. I'll never forget those lectures. I remember him telling ...

[Read More]