For Lord’s Day, December 1, 2013
I have something big to share with you today; but it is packaged in little things.
First, the title of a new Thanksgiving sermon on SermonAudio caught my eye recently: “Proud People Don’t Say Thanks”. Either way you slice it, “Look at Me” or “Woe is Me” by way of omissive expression are of the ingrate and proud. I would submit also that proud people don’t say, “Please”.
At their root, all variations of pride have a lack of gratitude for what will be or has been served. This Thursday, Psalm 30:4 taught us that a lack of gratitude mainly has a lack of an appreciation for God’s holiness given to us. As well, we were reminded that gratitude, the essence of the Christian ethic (R.C. Sproul), also is the antidote to being unholy:
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3-4)
As recalling God’s holiness is the cause for thanks, and the cause for thanks is the cause of our holy living, this is a big revelation. For without holiness, no one shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:10, 14).
But big things often come in small packages, and this includes how we grow in holiness to obey God’s command to be like Him (1 Pet. 1:15-16 quoting Lev. 11:44). In his chapter, “Holiness in Little Things” (from his book, God’s Way of Holiness), Andrew Bonar writes the following to encourage us to keep building up holiness in us, block by block [bold, GVL]:
… a holy life is made up of a multitude of small things … Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons; little deeds, not miracles, nor battles, nor one great heroic act or mighty martyrdom, make up the true Christian life … The avoidance of little evils, little sins, little inconsistencies, little weaknesses, little follies, little indiscretions and imprudences, little foibles, little indulgences of self and of the flesh, little acts of indolence or indecision or slovenliness or cowardice, little equivocations or aberrations from high integrity, little touches of shabbiness and meanness, little bits of covetousness and penuriousness, little exhibitions of worldliness and gaiety, little indifferences to the feelings or wishes of others, little outbreaks of temper, crossness, selfishness, vanity–the avoidance of such little things as these goes far to make up at least the negative beauty of a holy life.
And then attention to the little duties of the day and hour, in public transactions or private dealings or family arrangements; to little words, looks, and tones; little benevolences, forbearances, or tendernesses; little self-denials, self-restraints, and self-forgetfulnesses, little plans of quiet kindness and thoughtful consideration for others; to punctuality, method, and true aim in the ordering of each day–these are the active developments of a holy life, the rich and divine mosaics of which it is composed … It is of small things that a great life is made up; and he who will acknowledge no life as great save that which is built up of great things, will find little in Bible characters to admire or copy.
Beloved, perhaps there are times when you might respond in your heart to preaching, teaching, or counseling with, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a little thing really, isn’t it?” As I read some of Bonar’s list above, I could easily (and wrongly) dismiss my little things most in need of improvement as minor, but I have not allowed myself to do so in meditation. Please realize first of all that if it is not a big thing, then you should have no problem letting go of it immediately. But more importantly, please remember that the little things add up to big things.
For 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)
And in the end, we want to hear Jesus say to us, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. (Luke 19:17)