The Small Things
In April of 1990, the $1.6 billion Hubble Space telescope was launched into orbit with great anticipation. It was discovered that something was very wrong. The problem was a few 25-cent washers that technicians used to fill in a gap in an optical testing device had shaken loose. The cost of the rescue mission to fix Hubble was $86 million. It is hard to believe how something so small can cause such damage and bring about such costly repairs. Small things matter.
James reminds us of the small fire kindled by a loose tongue. “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” (James 3:3-5) The tongue is a little member but how much damage can be done when not used properly. Careless words can be few but start a conflagration of hurt and destruction.
It must also be remembered that a few words can encourage and lift up the spirits of the downtrodden. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). Paul wrote the brethren at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing... encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-14) This type of encouragement does not take many words. Words fitly spoken for those who need to be uplifted can be of such value to the work of the Lord.
Small things take on the importance of sharing the gospel of Christ. Jesus set the pattern in John 4 when He spoke to the woman at the well. From this discussion with one woman, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:39-42) How many people can tell the story of their conversion from the small beginning of a tract, a radio program, a bulletin article, a caring heart who helped them find the truth?
Elijah became discouraged with the work of the Lord in 1 Kings 19 and desired the Lord to take his life. As he sat in his despair, Jehovah comes to him “and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12). The problem with Elijah was he thought the will of Jehovah had to be accomplished with great things (see 1 Kings 17 & 18 for examples of great deeds); he was reminded that the will of the Lord can be accomplished with one man if the Lord so desires.
Small things matter to God: a cup of water (Matthew 25:31-46); little children (Matthew 18:1-6); one soul (Luke 9:25); one sheep, one coin, one boy (Luke 15). You (John 3:16).