“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” we’re told. Yet very small things have the power to influence the direction of a day. Negatively, lost keys can put the whole household in an uproar. A leak under the sink can lead to a huge mess. In a positive way, a dandelion from a child can be a treasured gift. A short text can bring heartache or a smile. Little things matter.
The Power of Little Things
God repeatedly uses insignificant people, places, and things to accomplish His great purposes. Yet, Scripture warns to beware of small things that can have dire consequences.
God repeatedly uses insignificant people, places, and things to accomplish His great purposes.
The Bible calls the tongue “deadly,” and many have felt this awful truth. What a little thing to carry such great weight! “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5). Words are such little things, but oh, how they can wound or heal! How many reputations have been ruined by a rumor? How many children have been forever scarred by the harsh words of a parent?
Little things can also have a cumulative effect. Most of us have felt overwhelmed by an avalanche of little things that have piled up until we feel as if we are being crushed. If we are paralyzed to inaction by the small things, they can cause serious damage in the long run. Yes, little things have an incredible impact.
God Uses Little Things
Little things have the innate potential to grow and mature. In the natural world, a seed becomes a tree, an egg becomes a chicken, and an embryo becomes a human. Jesus took advantage of this familiar phenomenon, explaining in one of his parables that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that starts out as the smallest of seeds but grows to become a great tree (Mt. 13:31).
God delights in giving us opportunities to grow and use our faith. Small things require our trust in His power. We must believe that He is working in the small things, despite appearances. God uses inconsequential things to illuminate His ability to work in miraculous ways in spite of us. These small things remind us that self-sufficiency is not a virtue. God wants to receive the glory when we see the way He has moved through the little things. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). He is the God Who gets glory in the little things.
The Danger of Little Things
While God can use little things for our good and his glory, Scripture also faithfully warns of the many disastrous circumstances that started with something tiny. A haircut had some serious repercussions for Samson. A lustful glance led to David’s downfall. A struck rock kept Moses out of Canaan. An act of disobedience and distrust by Eve brought sin into God’s brand-new creation. The whole world still bears the consequences of what seemed to be just one bite of fruit. A seemingly insignificant thing can destroy our faith, damage our reputation, and dismantle our Christian witness.
Scripture warns to beware of small things that can have dire consequences.
Little things reveal the nature of our true selves. 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” (Lk. 16:10). Faithful attention to obedience in the little things opens the door to further kingdom responsibilities and leads to our own peace.
Little things can reveal our attitude towards others. It’s easy to minimize our own sin by bringing attention to the faults of others. Sometimes we do so with great eagerness. Jesus asked the question, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:3). A nit-picking attitude can reveal a huge spiritual problem.
A steady drip of water will eventually wear away the hardest stone, and the most solid Christian can slowly be eroded by little things.
Your Jar of Little Things
My grandmother had a special jar of “little things.” It had belonged to a beloved invalid daughter who found joy in gathering them. There were diminutive books with real pages of script, miniature dollar bills, little lamps, small false teeth, and an itsy-bitsy vacuum cleaner. The treasures were mostly collected from bubblegum machines. We would gently pick through each cherished item, marveling at the tiny details.
In a much more important way, your life is a jar of little things. Maybe it’s a jar filled with treasured moments, good habits, love, obedience, and trust; or perhaps it’s filled with ugly little words, sharp attitudes, and tiny hurts that need healing.
Like my cousins and I used to do with our grandmother’s jar, maybe you could spill out your jar and let Jesus look over the little things with you. You can trust Him to be gentle and kind. He will faithfully take the time to help you deal with each one. As the lyrics of a gospel song call us to do, surrender all the little things that you hold deep within yourself:
Give them all, give them all,
Give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys
Give them all, give them all,
Give them all to Jesus
And he will turn your sorrow into joy.