Big Things and Little Things

I had a friend in college who liked to say that “nothing is hard, but some things take more time.” It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to find counter-examples to this aphorism, but I still find it to be a helpful reminder when encountering things that appear to be big and difficult to deal with. When we approach difficult challenges by taking one step at a time, and breaking down big jobs into tiny tasks, this statement becomes true. Huge accomplishments are made by taking incremental steps. For example, the goal of writing a book might be a daunting task for most people. Yet, books are only collections of chapters, chapters are collections of paragraphs, paragraphs are collections of sentences, sentences are collections of words, and words are collections of letters. And even preschoolers can put a few letters together. Big things that cannot be handled in their entirety tend to be merely an accumulation of many little things that can be easily handled piece by piece.

The life of a Christian involves setting our sights on the difficult and challenging way of life, which is so contrary to the common ways of the world. Jesus Christ provides us with some great advice on how to set our life’s goals in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Truly, living a life that is completely obedient to God is extremely difficult, and even impossible to do without the Holy Spirit of God working within us. Yet, this is what Christians are called to do. We are called to live a life that rejects the carnal nature of being human, which leads to sin, and choose instead to continuously increase in godly obedience. This is such a difficult thing to do, that only one man has ever been able to be successful in this task, without ever making a mistake!

If we are doomed to fail in our endeavor to live a life without sin, why would we want to choose such a difficult path? Why would we even try? The answer is that it is the only way to reach the goal of living an eternal life in God’s Family. As Jesus says, it is the only way that leads to life. The gift of life, and the reward for our efforts invested now, are promised to have value beyond anything imaginable. With this in mind, we should not ask ourselves why we should bother living a difficult life; but rather, why would we choose to give up such a great opportunity when God is faithful to grant us success? (compare 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3). Yes, the Christian life is inherently difficult, but worth it in the end.

Knowing that we are called to live a life that is difficult, what do we need to do to equip ourselves to endure until the time of judgment? The answer is that we need to keep our focus on our ultimate goal, and conduct our lives by taking care of the little things. If a life of complete faithful obedience to the Christian way of life is our goal, the opportunities that are presented to us in each immediate moment are where we take action. We can only really work on what’s within our grasp.

Even though it is helpful to us in a practical way to do the work of our lives in little pieces, there’s more to it. These little things are where we will be judged as well. In Luke 16:10 we are reminded, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” The little things that we encounter day by day are never too small to pay attention to. They matter a great deal. God very seriously considers how we take care of matters that might seem insignificant to us. How we work with them is an indicator of how we’ll handle the big responsibilities that are promised to us as a reward. Do we act dismissively towards the matters that are “too insignificant” to treat with godly reverence? Or do we consider that each moment is our chance to score another incremental victory in our calling to overcome sin? We must focus on the little victories if we want to claim the big one.

There is no doubt that living a life as a convicted Christian is a difficult challenge to take on. But is it too hard? Absolutely not! When we take the time and effort to live a Christian life with each moment, this seemingly impossible task of overcoming sin will become a tremendous success.

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