In praise of the little things

Thursday, April 19, 2018

“Not everybody is called to do great things; but we can all do little things with great love.” — Mother Theresa.

Preachers often ask people to take big risks for God. Sometimes I’ll use this space to challenge you to do something extraordinary for Jesus. To try something new as an act of faith. In the Christian world we often celebrate those who accomplish the amazing: the preacher who converts thousands; the mega-church with the multimillion-dollar campus; the philanthropist who funds a Third World orphanage.

But there also needs to be a recognition that there is beauty in accomplishing the routine. There is something to be said for doing the little things, for punching the clock, for the ordinary.

We need a theology of showing up. We need to celebrate the discipline of doing what needs to be done.

The Biblical word for this is faithfulness. And it is an attribute of God. Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

“Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Have you ever thought about the routine things God does? The sun comes up every morning. The leaves of the trees create clean air for us to breathe. Your heart continues to beat. These are regular occurrences, run-of-the-mill events that we take for granted. And yet they would not happen unless God faithfully causes them to happen. “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.”

Mark Buchanan, in his book “The Holy Wild” writes:

“(This) is the problem with faithfulness: We hardly notice it. Faithfulness is, by definition, the predictable, the habitual, the sturdy, the routine. It is the evidence of things seen, but seen so often we’ve grown blind to them. It is the substance of things expected, expected so unthinkingly that we now take them for granted.”

At Hope Church, right now, we are doing a series of sermons on the “fruit of the Spirit.” That’s a list of attributes given in Galatians 5:22-23 of the kind of characteristics that will ripen in a person’s life when he or she is walking in step with the Spirit of God. The list includes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Right there, No. 7 on the list, is faithfulness.

And so, I write this column in praise of the little things. I think we should acknowledge the importance of the routine. We should celebrate those who faithfully carry out the little, unseen, taken-for-granted works of faith.

For example:

The parents who faithfully care for a special needs child.

The city maintenance worker who faithfully goes out early in the morning to plow the city streets.

The Sunday school teacher who faithfully prepares a lesson for five or six children.

The neighbor who faithfully checks on the widow next door.

The pastor who faithfully preaches to a small country church.

The senior citizen who faithfully prays every morning.

It is not always the extraordinary that makes an impact for Jesus. There is much to be said for those who quietly and consistently do the routine things. God bless you as you faithfully carry out God’s will for you today.