DayBreaks for 3/20/17: Little Things Add Up
NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.
Long ago in the days of the Roman empire, a general by the name of Quintus Sertorius was in charge of the Roman army in the area around Spain. It was a vast territory with which he was entrusted. Being a Roman, he wasn’t acquainted with the term nor experience of defeat. But general Sertorius had a problem: in spite of a huge area to account for, his army was mostly made up of undisciplined conscripts. How was he supposed to teach them the discipline necessary to become a strong, forceful army?
He had an idea. He called for two of his soldiers: one was the most physically dominating warrior in the army – a mountain of a man with skills and strength to match. The other man was the puniest, weakest of the conscripts. After the two men came forward, he had two animals brought out. One was a scrawny, weak looking pony. The other was a powerful and intimidating war horse.
Sertorius ordered that the little pony be put in front of the great warrior, and the mighty war horse in front of the weak man. He then told them that they had the same job to perform: pull out the horse’s tail. But there was one difference: the mighty warrior was to grasp the horse’s tail and pull it out all at once, while the weak man was to take it one hair at a time and pull out one hair each time until the tail was gone.
You can guess who was successful. Here’s the point: it takes lots of little things to add up, but it is through the discipline of knowing that small things add up to big achievements and victories that something gets achieved. Seldom, if ever, are great things accomplished by one person and their giftedness. At some point their strength either runs out or it is not great enough. That’s why God gives us the church – a band of brothers and sisters – each uniquely gifted, but whom alone cannot achieve much of anything. Together, however, it is a different story.
Think about the apostles. Individually they weren’t much to brag about – fishermen, tax collectors, with some others thrown in – and none of them were experienced preachers or teachers. And yet, we’re told that they turned the world upside down. They didn’t do it alone. They had the Spirit, but they had their Barnabas’, Silas’, Timothy’s, Luke’s, and literally thousands of unnamed and unknown (to us) people who helped them. But even then, people were won one at a time. It started in a town in Palestine, but overwhelmed the world.
It’s true, of course, with sin, too. Little things add up. One lie turns into another and soon an entire life is ruined. One illicit affair and a lifetime of love and family is destroyed. One dishonest business deal and a lifetime’s work, or a company, can come crashing down.
Beware of the small things that seem powerless to harm you or to bring you down. And honor the small contributions that others, and you, can make for the cause of Christ. Little things do add up.
Numbers 16:9 – (NLT) Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them?
PRAYER: Father, may we be wise enough to know that we are not powerful enough to do great things on our own, for no one can do great things apart from you. Help us to appreciate the giftedness of others, according to your great pleasure and wisdom. And keep us from thinking that the little faults in our life don’t add up to great evil. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.