More Flies With Honey?

There is a common saying that “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It is often mentioned when preaching is deemed too hard and offensive. The idea is if you make your preaching softer and more positive, then it will attract more people. The hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching just drives people away.

If the goal is to attract as many flies as possible, then why not use manure?

I grew up on a farm and know without a doubt that manure will draw more flies than either honey or vinegar. And, truth be told, this is why so many denominational preachers are attracting big crowds—their lessons are manure. They are soft and warm and stink.

The Bible warns about men-pleasers (2 Tim. 4:1-5). They have “smooth words and flattering speeches” (Rom. 16:17, 18). Such men do draw spiritual “flies.” Those who love the truth, however, will reject them.

Do not misunderstand, there does need to be a balance in the pulpit and elsewhere. Lessons that encourage are needed. So are lessons that rebuke. Jesus did both in His teaching (Jn. 14; Matt. 23). Sometimes Jesus used both in one lesson like the Sermon On The Mount (Matt. 5-7).

Just because someone is offended and driven away does not mean the teaching or approach is bad. Jesus drove away many with His “hard saying” (Jn. 6:60-66). As long as we speak as the oracles of God in the love of God and fellow man, our duty is fulfilled whether or not people like it (2 Tim. 4:1-5).