You know what I never really understood? Those Chicken Soup for the Soul books, with their pithy little stories about life and faith as if reality was every really as simple as the little stories made them out to be. I also never really understood their ugly step cousin, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and its all small stuff). I know these books might be inspiring to some, by offering little pick-me-ups and aphorisms to live by (if that is what you need, by all means have them). But I am going to be honest with you. You should sweat the small stuff. It all might be small stuff, but how you handle the little every day decisions will have a profound impact on your life overall. Consider with me, then, Luke 16:10…
10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
It took me about five readings of this verse in the Greek to translate it correctly, and when I did finally it took on a whole new level of meaning.
The one who is faithful with the least thing-the smallest action, the least decision-will also be the one who is faithful in great things. Often,in my life, I look to those great saints and evangelists and Bible teachers as people of extraordinary faith who I someday want to be like. Someday, I will be as faithful as them, as bold as them, as obedient to the voice of God. I ponder how great their faith must be to lead them to do such radical things-selling all their possessions, fighting against injustice and being thrown in prison, packing up and heading off to a foreign land to spread the good news of Jesus just because God asked them too. Someday, I say, I will be as faithful as them.
Then there is this passage, which states rather bluntly that those who are faithful in the least things are also those who are faithful in the great things. And I am cut to the heart. Does this mean that my decision to read instead of watch TV, to use a reusable bag instead of plastic, to hold a door open or compliment a friend, is the real building blocks of faith? Does it mean that when I am faithful with my twenty dollar birthday money, or my underdeveloped gifts of listening and offering comfort, that somewhere in this I am preparing myself to be faithful in the big things?
For me, this passage is the antithesis of ‘not sweating the small stuff’.’ Rather, we should be utterly concerned about the small stuff, because faithfulness in the small stuff is what makes us faithful in the big stuff. Conversely, when we neglect the little things-are conversations with friends and family, our daily devotional time, our prayers, our repentance, our everyday actions- and insist instead on those BIGGER things alone (how to fight injustice, what is the purpose of my life, why am I here, what does God want me to do for a career), then we will inevitable neglect the big things.
We are called to be faithful in the least things, and such a habit will lead us to be faithful with the bigger stuff. Even more importantly, neglected the least-the daily routine actions-will make us neglect the small things.
It is the decisions we make everyday, the small character decisions, that are the ones forever shaping our future obedience. Those big life choices-choosing a career, deciding to get married, finding a life purpose-do not arise instantaneously. Rather, they are made of the accumulation of lots of small decisions.
If you want to follow Jesus in the big stuff, then learn to follow him just today, in the small things. One day at a time. In so doing, you are building up a faithfulness that will make even the greatest things seem only a matter of another little step.