Beware of Snapshots

Posted on · Posted in Sanctification

No, this post is not a warning against taking pictures. But if you understand the dynamics of still a photograph, a snapshot, you will learn a valuable life lesson. A snapshot records a moment in time. You don’t know what came before the photo and you don’t know what happened after the photo was taken. You also are not aware of what the photographer chose not to show you in the picture. With a snapshot all you have is a frozen moment in time that may appear to have a meaning that is radically different from the actual situation.

What about the life lesson? Well, if you just met someone, you may be able to say a lot about that person. You can tell if the person was wearing expensive clothes. You can tell if the person appeared happy or sad. You might think this person was friendly or aloof. But in reality you know next to nothing about this person. To really find out about this individual you need a video recording, not a snapshot.

For example, recall Jesus talking about the two sons in Matthew 21. If you used the snapshot approach to evaluate this encounter you would be drawn to make a wrong conclusion.

Snapshot 1:

The father asked the first son if he would work in the vineyard. He emphatically said no.

Snapshot 2:

The father asked his other son the same question. This son respectfully said that he would.


Based on these two snapshots what conclusion would you make about the two sons?

As you know, concluding that the first son disobeyed and the second son was responsible would be would be the wrong conclusion. It is only when we let the video camera roll for a while that we get the full picture.

This is a helpful exercise to do with your kids. It can have many variations. If your children can grasp the limitations of life’s snapshots, they will have learned a life lesson that will serve them well all of their lives.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.