(a guest article from Derrick McCarson, Pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Candler, NC)
There is an ancient Indian legend of a king who loved chess. He challenged visitors to a game, and was usually victorious. One day a traveling sage visited the kingdom and was challenged to a game by the king. To entice him to play, the king offered to give the sage whatever reward he asked if he won. When the sage explained that his prize would involve rice, the king thought nothing of such a small reward.
To the king’s amazement he was swiftly defeated in just a matter of a few moves! To honor his word, the king ordered a bag his servants to go to the granary and locate the rice. But the sage, had something more in mind. He asked for one grain of rice to be placed on the first square of the chessboard, and then that it would be doubled on each following square until all 64 squares were filled.
The request seemed modest, and the king ordered a bag of rice to be brought. One grain was placed on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth and so on. But it quickly became apparent that the terms of the request were impossible to meet. By the twenty-first square more than one million grains of rice would be required. By the thirty-first square the total would go over one billion—with more than half of the chessboard still left to go. By the end, the wise man had a lifetime supply of food at his disposal because he understood the power of exponential growth.
Small things have a big impact when they are added together. The Scriptures have a lot to say about the value of small things. Zechariah encouraged us not to “despise the day of small things” (4:10). Solomon warned us to be on the lookout for the “little foxes” which can rob us when we aren’t looking (Song 2:15). Proverbs 13:11 tells us that wealth which endures is gathered “little by little” over a lifetime. Jesus taught that as stewards of His kingdom resources we ought to be faithful in the “small things” (Luke 16:10). Christ even compared His ministry to a tiny mustard seed that grew into a towering tree (Mark 4:30-32). Remember one of Jesus’ most fantastic miracles began with just a little boy’s sack lunch of sardines and bread (John 6:9).
When you think you don’t have much to offer, remember God has a special way of using routine faithfulness in the “small things” to accomplish great things! Too many of us get caught up in future, grandiose thinking. “The Lord is going to give me a great ministry down the road. Then I will matter to Him and to others.” The danger in being caught up in “someday I will do a great thing for God” is that we may miss the frequent and daily opportunities to serve Him which, by the way, may make an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom.
Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks. The little things in life determine the big things. There will always be more people willing to do “great” things for God than there are people willing to do the little things. The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants.
So where do we begin? Moses had a staff. David had a sling. Samson had a jawbone. Rahab had a string. Mary had some ointment. The widow had two mites. Paul had a pen. What do you have? Start small and give it to God.
~Derrick McCarson, 2015