The Little is Important

The Little is Important

Much of our thinking today is in bigness. When our nation began we though in terms of a family unit in a wilderness settlement. As our nation grew our outlook increased and we thought in terms of a community. Then as transportation and communication facilities grew better we thought of terms of a state and then a union of states and now today we think in terms of a world. At first we thought in terms of small village stores, then in terms of a chain of stores and now today in terms of worldwide corporations and interlocking directorates. There was a day when we thought in terms of pennies, then in terms of dollars, then we spoke of thousands of dollars and today our thinking is in terms of billions. We began with small Churches and these became bigger Churches, and then big denominations and now today our thinking is in terms of Church union which will give unto us a gigantic organization.

Now I am not against bigness. I realize that big business has done much to increase our standard of living. Certainly in a day when the major cities of the world are only minutes apart in communication and hours apart in transportation we must think in terms of a one world. It does take huge sums of money to support big business and big government. Without a doubt we must in a world that is being torn asunder by many conflicting ideas emphasize the oneness of Christians, that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. I deplore what over emphasis upon big business does to our thinking. So often we feel that a Church is important only if it is big; that the only gift that is worthwhile is that which has cost a great sum of money. Often times we forget that the mighty oak tree came from a little acorn; that habits come from a small beginning; that small influences in our lives have tremendous effect.

It is significant to remember that the Christ-Child was born not in a palace but in a stable; that the first clothes which covered His body were swaddling bands and not garments of purple; that the first sounds that fell upon His ears were the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the cattle not the blaring of the trumpets announcing a royal birth. How significant that the first announcement of His birth came to a band of lowly shepherds sitting about a flickering campfire upon a lonely hillside, rather than to a group of royalty sitting about a blazing fireplace in a palace. One great teaching to be derived from the Christmas story is the fact that the common place, the little things of life are important. Throughout the entire Bible we find emphases placed on the little. Let me recall three stories from God’s Word that point up the truth that the little is important.

We turn back to the Old Testament for the first. The army of Israel was pitted against the army of the Philistines, in the valley of Elah. We see a young lad in his teens carrying some food in his arms for his brothers who were members of the army of Israel. At last we see David marching across the valley towards Goliath. As he draws near the mighty Goliath looks down upon the little David and cries, “Am I a dog that thou come to me armed with a sling. Come I will feed your flesh to the fowls of the air and the beast of the field.” David answered: “You come with a spear, a sword and a shield but I came in the name of God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. He will deliver you into my hand.” The giant moved toward David, and David ran toward him. He put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a stone, put it in a sling, twirled it about his head and let it fly and the stone hit the giant in the forehead and he fell stunned to the earth and David went and slew him. David prevailed with a sling and a stone. How little that was in comparison to a sword, a spear and a shield. But behind the use of a sling on that occasion lay hours of practice with the sling and the development of a talent. That little talent dedicated to the Lord became an important instrument.

How thankful we are for those who dedicate and use their talent for the Lord. How thankful we are for officers, musicians, teachers of youth. How thankful we are for those who use the talent of influencing people to influence them for Christ. The great tragedy in the Church today is the unused and the undedicated talent. It is the many using the little talents that God has given that leads to the accomplishment of the much.

A Church in a neighboring town advertised for a janitor. One man applied who on appearance seemed anything but one who would be interested in work as a janitor. He looked as if he would be suitable for an executive position, at least for a job that would pay more. But the man told his story. He had an excellent position, he had a fine home with his wife and daughter. But he became the victim of alcohol, his home was destroyed, and he became a wanderer. One night he stumbled into the Union Mission in Charleston half drunk. That night at the evangelistic service in the Mission he surrendered his life to Christ. The outcome was a life transformed and a family reunited. That particular morning he had been looking over the want ads in the paper. As he read of the need for a Church janitor, he suddenly knew that this was the job the Lord had for him. He secured the job. That man working as a janitor in the Church, dedicating entirely a talent to the Lord was used to transform that Church, both in its physical plant and the lives of many people. You have a talent, a little tough it might be, use it for the Lord.

And now we take our place along the shore of the Galilean Sea. We are one of a large crowd of at least five thousand men besides women and children. The central figure is Jesus of Nazareth. We watch as He heals the sick and listen as He spoke unto the people. We hear Him say to His disciples, “Give ye them to eat.” They reply. “Master this is a desert place, the hour is late, we have nothing for them to eat, send them away that they might go into the cities and buy food.” Standing nearby is a young lad with a package under his arm and we watch as he goes forward and speaks to one of the disciples, Andrew by name. Andrew takes the boy by the arm and leads him to Jesus. The boy opens his package and holds out its contents, five loaves of bread and two small fishes to Jesus. The Savior took the boys offering, He blessed it, He broke it and handed the pieces to the disciples to distribute amongst the people and there was enough for all to have their hunger satisfied. Only five loaves and two fishes but that little was much when dedicated to the Lord. This lad demonstrates what giving is: it is sharing possessions which come from God with others for His sake.

So often we thing that if we have not something big to give that we had better give nothing. Remember in the last day Christ will say to some, “Ye did not give a cup of water, ye did not visit the sick, ye did not feed the hungry and clothe the naked.” It is the little things that we give that count for more than big gifts. Five minutes of your time spent by the bedside of a sick friend, a five cent card and a three cent stamp sent to one in the hospital will mean more than a great gift. A girl on her birthday wrote to a doctor: “Dear doctor, 14 years ago you brought me into this world. I want to thank you, for I have enjoyed every minute of it.” no gift ever thrilled or brought more pleasure to that doctor than this one. It is each of us sharing a little that we have to share that will cause the great river of blessing to flow. Remember the work of the Church is not financed in the main by the bid gifts of the few, but by the small gifts of the many.

Now let us go with Jesus into the Temple and sit with Him over against the treasury, and watch as the worshipers put in their gifts. Suddenly an act is witnessed that arouses the Master. A widow placed two mites into the offering box. Immediately Jesus said, “This one has put more in than all the rest, for she has given her all.” Only two pennies but it is much for it represented her all. Like the Macedonian Christians she first gave herself to the Lord.

The most priceless possession which we have is not our talents, not our material possession but ourselves, our personalities. Personality is God’s greatest gift. It is the most powerful force in the world. It is the most tremendous thing which we possess. Let us never despise our self. We can take our self and do one of three things with it:

  1. Wrap it in the napkin of self and fold it away and live like a hermit.
  2. Put all into selfish gain and be a miser, a Hitler, a Stalin.
  3. We can invest our self in the service of God and mankind as did the Apostle Paul, as did the widow when she gave her two mites.

In her autobiography, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” Ethel Waters tells about her gift to “Rex Stout when he was convalescing. Though at the time she was starring in a play on Broadway, she turned up early one morning at the hospital and , dressed as a nurse, carried in his breakfast tray.” She spent the day with him, diverting him with chitchat, wheeling him about the hospital, and giving him all her attention. She invested her all in the service of another.

One morning a little girl sitting in a Church pew said to the deacon who handed her the collection plate, “Put it down lower.” He lowered it and she asked that it be put lower until it was practically on the floor. Then the little girl put her feet on it and stood. The deacon could stand it no longer and asked her what she was doing. She replied, “The pastor read this morning, “I beseech you therefore brethren that you present your bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord.” I have nothing else to put into the plate so I am giving myself.” When we look at ourselves in the light of others and view their accomplishment and their radiant personalities we may feel that we are nothing. But remember, that in the eyes of God your little or great is most important.

Christmas means many things to many people. One of the greatest lessons to be learned this Christmas season is that the little is important. “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick

First Presbyterian Church, Charleston W Va.

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