Most, if not all of us, tend to be “big picture” people. We focus more on the big, the extravagant, the expensive and the humongous. News coverage is much quicker and more involved for big events, crimes and tragedies. Not long ago, a well-known writer/speaker got in trouble for his correct opinion that we tend to put more emphasis and value on big things than the many little things that occur as well.
For example, we would gasp when the evening news shows a 20-car pile-up on the interstate. But we don’t think about the many single-car accidents that happened today. A mass shooting gets the attention of everyone and brings politicians to their soapbox. Where is the outrage when hundreds of unborn children are killed in abortion clinics?
What we forget is that every “big” is made up of many “littles.” Your favorite football team is in the Super Bowl. Your quarterback throws a successful “hail Mary” pass to win the game. A big play. But it was set up by four quarters of little plays, many people working together and iced by some small errors by the opposition. Your rich uncle leaves you a 64-room mansion at the beach; that’s big. But the house was built by the work of a number of little people, using little bricks, nails and boards. The big wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the little.
On Sept. 11, one of the men in our church read an article about little things that hindered people who would have normally been in the World Trade Center that morning but weren’t: one man stopped to buy doughnuts; one woman’s alarm clock didn’t go off on time; one missed the bus and one spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change. One’s car wouldn’t start and one couldn’t get a taxi. And I’m sure there are many stories of others who were in the towers and maybe wouldn’t normally have been there, but for some little event. Let’s not neglect or downplay the little things.
Jesus was the master of little things. It was a huge thing for God to leave heaven and become a man; it was unspeakably huge for that same God to die on a cross for our sins and to rise again the third day. But between those times, He was involved in many little things.
It was a little thing to go to a wedding in Cana. It was a little thing to be given a little boy’s lunch. It was a little thing to touch the diseased body of the leper. It was a little thing to ask a sinful woman for a drink of water. It was a little thing to have an evening chat with a Jewish religious leader. It was a little thing to put holy mud on the eyes of the blind man. It was a little thing to have the local children sit on His lap. It was a little thing to allow a sick woman to touch the hem of His robe. It was a little thing to pass around bread and wine at the end of Passover. And we don’t know the myriad other little things Jesus did that had such great impact on those He met.
And today, let us get involved in little things; we might call them civility, politeness, the Golden Rule, but they make a difference. Recently my wife’s car gave up on her at the stop light on Fourth and Main. A nice stranger and a police officer pushed it into a parking lot. A number of years ago, we bought her first car in West Virginia, a bank repo. It was a lemon. It gave up on her first trip out of town and she was on the interstate. A young man coming down the other way came across the median to help. It’s the little things but actually big things.
When you say please and thank you, they’re little things. When you open the door for someone at the post office, it’s a little thing. When you’re driving out of the parking lot and someone in front is backing out and you stop and let him or her go first, it’s a little thing.
When we see tragedy like and donate to worthy causes, it’s a little thing. Every shoebox we pack for Operation Christmas Child is a little thing. When we visit a hospital or a nursing home, it’s a little thing. When we call someone who is hurting, it’s a little thing.
When we hug a child, when we comfort the bereaved, when we take care of the neighbor’s pets when they’re out of town, those are little things. But those little things have big results, not in material gain, but in the more valuable immaterial and lasting.
And most importantly, when we share the Gospel with a friend, when we pray for someone we meet in the grocery store and they share a need, when we take someone to church, when we include a Gospel tract in our bills we mail in or leave one with a nice tip for our server, when we speak out and when we show the love of Christ to others … that is little to us, but it could mean the difference of eternity to them.
Let’s remember that little things count. Every big thing is just a pile of little things. Use the example of Jesus, the master of little things and never forget that even a little glass of water given to a hungry person, blesses two and catches God’s eye.