Little things do make a difference. Those who know me will tell you I am a details-oriented person. For me, it’s the little things that make a difference in all that I do. Whether it is for my job, for a project, or even just piddling around the house, details make a difference. This morning while doing my morning exercise routine, I decided to increase my route by a mile. Today was my regular walking day so I was listening to Southern Gospel music on an old MP3 player as I took to the hills of Elm Street in Henderson, Kentucky. Little did I know the spiritual lesson the Lord had in store for me this morning.
We serve a God that’s aware of the little things!
Fall has arrived in Henderson, Kentucky. Already, leaves are beginning to change from green to various shades of red, orange, and bright yellow. Most of all, there are other details – just little things – the Lord created to show to all who will look of the change of seasons. As I walked up the first hill at the corner of Elm Street and Powell, I brushed against a small bush and didn’t think much else about it. I continued to walk up the hill, looking at the faded blooms of summer. More little details that summer is over and winter is approaching. As I approached the intersection of Elm and Clay, I noticed an apple core someone had tossed out on the street. Ants had already found it and were busy taking it, piece by piece, to their hill in someone’s yard.
Immediately, I thought of this passage in Proverbs, Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? (Proverbs 6:6-9). Most of us never even take much thought about ants unless we see them crawling across the counter top in the kitchen or we’ve managed to get bitten by them. Nevertheless, they are little things created by God and have a divine purpose. They serve as an object lesson to us and are a part of God’s plan that keeps our world going. Most of the time, their efforts go totally unnoticed by us; they keep doing what they are supposed to do anyway.
Little things matter in what we do for others
There’s a passage in the book of Matthew that reads, Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:1-4). As I was preparing to do today’s devotional, I thought about the teaching of this verse. Often we focus on the financial aspects of what the alms mean. I’ve even heard radio preachers try to put an exact dollar amount on it. This completely misses the point of what Jesus was trying to make.
When we feel moved by the Holy Spirit of the Lord to do something for someone else, no matter how small or large it is, we need to simply do it and not make any note of it. I’ll use my six-year old daughter as an example of this. Earlier last week, without me asking her to, she went upstairs and brought down a roll of toilet paper to replace the empty roll in the bathroom downstairs. She didn’t even point it out. Later that afternoon, I noticed it had been replaced, so I asked her. She said, “Oh, Dad, I knew it had to be done so I just did it…” She then explained it made her feel good to something good to help. My daughter also felt that it wasn’t a big deal and was something that needed to be done anyway.
Little details in relationships go a long way
I shared that little story about my daughter to illustrate how a little detail such as her bringing down a roll of toilet paper can make a big difference in a parent-child relationship. It works both ways; my daughter thrives on such little things. A quick trip to Evansville on a Saturday afternoon, an unexpected play time where she gets to pick a game from the game closet, or even making one of her favorite meals – are all little details that let her know she’s cared and loved in our family. It doesn’t stop there. It’s the little details we do that go largely unnoticed by others that demonstrates our love for the Lord and for them. It can be something as simple as starting a pot of coffee, ironing a shirt, or whatever you can think of – these little details are important to those we love.
Our attitude about the little things has to be right and we have to have the purest of motives. You cannot have an expectation of getting something in return for what you’ve done. It sabotages what we’ve done and will only cause others to question why we do the things we do. When I was living in graduate housing in Carbondale, Illinois, I had neighbors that kept score over who did what and when. Everyone would hear the arguments that would happen when one spouse felt slighted by the other. Consequently, their relationship didn’t last long. Not only did they demand the little things from the other, they had an expectation that whatever they did for the other, the other would reciprocate. This is not in the right spirit of how we are to approach the idea of doing things for others.
Get out there and do…
As I made my way back towards home this morning, I watched an older lady watering plants on her front porch. Her husband came onto the porch with a pitcher of water and asked her to hand him her watering can. When she thanked him and asked about his reasoning to help her with her chore, he said “just consider it as an ‘I love you…’ ” and with that, he went back into the house. Now I will be the first to admit I know nothing about those two; I’ve never walked that route before today. However, from that one act of “little things” her husband did and her reaction to it, it was clear they regularly do such tokens of love for one another.
I’m resolved more than ever to pay attention to these little things – but not only for my family but for those I encounter throughout the week. My heart’s desire is to make a difference in the life of someone each and every day. I want that difference to point them to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.