Show, Don’t Tell

Published by DonDavidson on

For many years I have been a member of a writer’s critique group called Trinity Arts Writers Workshop. One of the rules for good writing is “Show, Don’t Tell.” It means that rather than merely telling the reader what a character is thinking or feeling, a good writer shows the reader the character’s thoughts and feelings through what the character says and does. “Showing” helps the reader feel what the character feels and understand the character better.

Many times in the Old Testament God tells his people that he loves them. In Deuteronomy 23:5, Moses says that God turned Balaam’s curse into a blessing “because the Lord your God loves you.” In 1 Kings 10:9, the Queen of Sheba says that God made Solomon king “because the Lord loves Israel forever.” In 2 Chronicles 2:11, Huram, king of Tyre, says something similar in a letter to King Solomon: “Because the Lord loves His people, He has made you king over them.”

But they seem to have had trouble getting the message. So God sent Hosea to be an illustration of God’s love for his unfaithful people Israel, telling the prophet in Hosea 3:1: “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”

But the people still didn’t quite get it. So in the New Testament God goes a step beyond merely telling us how much he loves us. He shows us, by becoming a man—the man Jesus. In John 14:9, Jesus said, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus came to show us what God is like—his compassion, his mercy, his forgiveness, and most of all, his love.

Then to truly demonstrate his love for us, Jesus willingly suffered the humiliating and excruciatingly painful death of crucifixion to reconcile us to God. John 15:13 says this: “Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends.” That is what Jesus did to show his love, and God’s love, for us.

Paul says it well in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“Show, don’t tell.” Jesus did.


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