I’m pondering the message I am going to preach in a few days. It is one of several required at a conference. I have the subject, which leaves me with almost the whole canon as potential preaching fodder. Now I am sharpening.
The temptation is not to sharpen, but to cram bulk into the message. How many bits of a brilliant Bible can I pack into the message in order to touch on as many good bits as possible? Bad idea. A big and bulky message will not communicate, it will not carry well. It will drop like a lead balloon before it gets to the first row.
Much better to remove bulk and sharpen the arrow. That is, instead of trying to get a lot across, I should try to effectively get the main thing across. Better for people to leave with the main thing firmly embedded in their hearts than with the experience of watching a preacher fail to communicate (and carrying nothing away themselves). This is obvious, but the problem is that it is also painful.
To sharpen the arrow I probably need to lose the content from that part of the Bible, and that part too, oh, and that bit. The only way to sharpen metal is to remove bulk. So by faith, prayer and work I need to sharpen the message so that it will communicate more effectively.