We wrote last week about wanting to dream big dreams. But today, we want to emphasize something else: while dreaming big dreams we must remember that there is a great value in small things.
Many of us have probably heard the ancient Chinese proverb, originally attributed to the philosopher Laozi: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Every man and woman was once a baby. The vast oceans are made up of drops of water. The shore of the sea which we call the beach is composed of grains of sand. What would the world be without little things?
Many people have failed in life because of an inability to place the proper value on small things. One cent lost in a sale makes one dollar when there are a hundred sales. It is looking after such small matters that assures success for those in business. The same is true in whatever we do. A person may be very talented, but one fault, though it may be seemingly insignificant, can result in failure. I was watching the Astros play the Mariners earlier this week in the Division Series, and in Game 2, Seattle hit a fly ball to deep right field that almost cleared the wall; had it been struck just an inch lower on the bat, right on the sweet spot rather than off the end, it would have been a home run, likely changing the outcome of the game (and who knows, perhaps the series). A single inch!
Think about it in terms of personal characteristics. Have you ever known someone whose life was marred by a single fault? Maybe they were very skilled and accomplished…but they always talked about themselves, “tooting their own horn” as we sometimes say. Or perhaps they were very likeable and talented…except for the fact that they were lazy. A single fault can cast a shadow over everything else. We see how much harm one ostensibly tiny flaw can do.
If we turn this around, we will find a valuable lesson on the other side. Just as sure as success is lost because of small things, it is also gained by small things. Looking after details is a productive habit. Let’s consider that especially in the work of the church, and how much it depends on little things. It is impossible to know how many small matters are looked after by those who are never really recognized as workers in the church. But recognition from their fellows is not what genuine Christians are interested in. What would the church be without someone to “look after the details”? How much “decency and order” could be had without these people? There is a great host of people who are constantly looking after what we call small matters who are actually contributing the difference between success and failure.
Someone is ill and needs care; some member of the church silently fits into the picture and does a bit of modest service. A person is helped; God is glorified; the church is built up.
Someone has grown weak and ceased to assemble with the saints, ceased to worship on a regular basis. A devout Christian does a little exhorting. No announcement was made; in fact, no one knew of it but these two. But soon the fault is removed and a soul is restored. New strength is added to the church. Where did this new strength originate? Who knows? Perhaps just two people and God.
A neighbor needs to hear the gospel. One who loves the souls of other people invites them to attend services with them. They attend and they come back. They attend again and again. Soon they obey the gospel. A new child is born into the kingdom of God. Someone gives the preacher credit for converting another soul, but God knows what actually took place. God saw the humble child as he approached the stranger with the invitation. God will not forget. His reward is sure. A small service was performed and a soul was born.
Just as sure as you sometimes find a “little leaven in a large lump”, if you turn that lesson around and make another application you will find “a lot of leaven in a little lump,” and the work of the Lord’s church goes on. We depend so much on small things. Remember their importance and don’t be afraid of doing the small things you can do in the work of the church.