The "why" in application

I am on a bit of a "why" kick (oh for the last three years or so) and was challenged and blessed by Jeff Brewer's article on Pastoralized. Brewer unpacks the importance of preaching "why" we do things.

"It’s tempting to only give the how when you preach on verses your church is familiar with and loves. Too often preachers leave out the why. This is a mistake because the why contains inner parts of obedience. The how only contains the external parts."

Brewer touches on three parts of obedience (behavior) that are left out when we only do the "how" in our sermons.

"1. Right practice, by itself, doesn’t teach right doctrine. When you tell people how to obey without the reason, you teach blind obedience. There is no vision of the character of God. That has more in common with a cult than it does with the true and living God..."

"2. Right practice, by itself, doesn’t necessarily come from the heart. Obedience from the heart requires knowing why we live one way, as opposed to another.  Obeying from our heart requires knowing God’s heart..."

"3. Right practice, by itself, doesn’t motivate obedience. We rob our people of the joy of following Christ when we just tell them how to live..."

"As you move away from doing application that focuses only on the how, you will find that your people are changed when they just hear the why. The reason we should obey is because we have a God who has done amazing things to save us. We have a God how graciously loves us."

Amen and Amen. Read the short post in its entirety here.


  1. This reminds me of years of teaching growing up in church and youth group: this is what Christians do and this is what they don't do, and if you want to follow Jesus, do this stuff and don't do that. The moralistic deism that has created a generation of outwardly conformed adherents in church who have - perhaps - not ever been inwardly transformed by the Spirit of God. God grant us patience and wisdom to lead our sheep to the true Shepherd; the One to which obedience is a joy and not a duty.


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