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 Vol. 4, No. 3 

 

March, 2002

  

~ Page 3 ~

 

Sweat the Small Stuff

By Allen Webster

Allen Webster Some religious people feel that as long as one has a sincere heart, the "little" details do not make much difference. Yet, we don't think this way about other matters which are not of eternal consequences. Consider:

If 99.9 percent is good enough, then ...

A LITTLE FAITH IS INSUFFICIENT. Jesus noticed the "small stuff." He commented on the fall of a sparrow (Matthew 10:29-31), a vine and branches (John 15:1-5), a lily (Matthew 6:28), the cry of need in a noisy crowd (Matthew 5:25-34), a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:42) and a widow's mite (Mark 12:42). He records and rewards the "little" things (Matthew 25:31-46; 16:26; Revelation 20:11-15). One small thing that brought his comment on four separate occasions was "little faith." Worry (Matthew 6:30), fear (Matthew 8:26), doubt (Matthew 14:31) and an unwillingness to trust the Lord to take care of them (Matthew 16:8), all led the Lord to reprove them for having too little faith. Have we outgrown worry -- or do we still lose sleep over things the Lord will handle? Have we overcome doubt -- or do we sometimes wonder if God will keep his promises? Do we completely trust the Lord to take care of us -- or do we find ourselves stubbornly unwilling to let Him handle his part?

A LITTLE FAULT MAY RUIN A CHARACTER. A person may be very talented, but have one fault and be a failure. Did you ever hear someone say, "I like that fellow, except he is always talking about himself?" Or, "She is a good person, but she is lazy." Or, "He will give you the shirt off his back, but he's bad to hit the bottle." A little pride (Proverbs 16:18; 29:23), envy (James 3:16; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 3:3), greed (Acts 5; cf. Judas), lust (Matthew 5:27-29) or malice (Ephesians 4:31; 1 Peter 2:1; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 John 3:20) can lead to big problems. A little social drinking (Proverbs 20:1) or being a little "critical" (Matthew 7:1-2) can bring on great consequences. The tongue is a little member, but it can kindle great strife (James 3:5).

A LITTLE SIN CAN CONDEMN US. God watches the "small stuff." Jesus said, " Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:17; cf. Matthew 25:21). James said, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (2:10). Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, suffered inglorious defeat upon the battlefield and dogs licked his blood (1 Kings 16-18). It is interesting to note the beginning of his downfall: " Ahab worshipped Baal a little" (2 Kings 10:18; cf. 1 Kings 16:31; Ezekiel 16:47; Ecclesiastes 10:1).

A LITTLE FALSE DOCTRINE CAN POISON THE SOUL. God has always been a stickler for doctrine. The word doctrine(s) is found 49 times in the New Testament. It is the key word of three books in the New Testament -- First Timothy, Second Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:7, 13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1-2, 8). He expects us to "test our teachers" on doctrine (1 John 4:1). Jesus said, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10). On the last page of the Bible, God wrote: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19; cf. Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6).

"Small Stuff" can lead to big trouble. What about a decimal point out of place? One dollar lost in nationwide sales can bankrupt a company overnight. What about a spark in the wrong place? What about a ball bearing or gas filter not functioning properly? What about a little hole in your tire? Like little acorns make mighty oaks, little departures from the truth make big digressions (cf. 2 John 9-11).

Solomon said, "Little foxes destroy the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15), which relates to the Jewish agricultural economy. Grapes were a staple item, so watchmen protected vineyards from thieving animals. Sometimes a watchman guarded against bears, while foxes entered undetected and ruined the crop. So it is in many churches. We guard what we call "big" departures from the faith, but dismiss small ones thinking they make little difference. A combination of foxes may do as much damage as a bear. The poet phrased it:

A pebble in the streamlet scant
hath changed the course of many a river.
A droplet on a tiny plant
hath warped the giant oak forever.

No man has made the right approach to God until he understands the importance of small things. "Sweat the small stuff" -- it matters.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Foxe's Book of Martyrs
paperback, 413 pages, published by Baker Book House
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Image Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
by Leon Crouch

paperback, 144 pages
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Image The Bible Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

by Robert R. Taylor, Jr.

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