Don't Despise Small Things

When the foundation of the second Jewish temple was laid, the Bible records that there was a mixed reaction. Those who had only known Babylonian captivity and a life without any temple, “shouted aloud for joy,” while those who had “seen the first temple,” Solomon’s glorious, long-destroyed edifice, “wept with a loud voice” (Ezra 3:12). While the Bible doesn’t record the source of that second group’s disappointment, it is telling that part of God’s response to an apathy towards temple building that arose soon after that foundation was laid was to ask the question, “For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).

It can be very tempting to despise small things. Even if we don’t get hit with nostalgia for the “good old days” like those older temple-builders evidently felt, we can easily judge our contribution to the Lord’s work as small in comparison to the missionaries, preachers, and soul-winners we know who seem to be doing so much more than us. As God said through His prophets during that second temple construction period, the problem isn’t seeing our work as small, but what that perspective does to our strength (Haggai 2:3-4) and our joy (Zechariah 4:10). Through Zechariah, God calls us to see things as He sees them.

Consider the missions of Philip. The Bible says that he went to Samaria and “preached Christ” (Acts 8:5). Multitudes united together both in listening to (8:6) and responding to (8:12) what Philip taught. Yet the Lord told him to leave that fertile, populous, and responsive mission field to find a single man in the desert who was looking for Jesus (8:26). Philip found and then “preached Jesus” to that lone Ethiopian, who also heard the message and obeyed it (8:35-38).

Which work was greater? Clearly there were more souls won to the Lord in Samaria than in the desert. But which work was more important, more significant? One can hardly argue that Philip was doing something less important when he answered the Lord’s call to go the desert.

The glory of the Lord filled the temple that Solomon built; clearly, He valued Solomon’s impressive contribution. But God promised to fill that second temple with His glory too (Haggai 2:6-7). In fact, the Lord would go on to say that the second temple would be even more glorious than the first (2:9), perhaps because Jesus would set foot in it rather than in Solomon’s. No wonder the eyes of the Lord rejoiced at the thought of its construction (Zechariah 4:10).

God knows where and when you are living. He also knows the talents, opportunities, and resources He has given to you. Don’t let small outcomes rob of you joy and strength as you serve Him. God doesn’t value the size or apparent outcome of your contribution; He values your willingness to contribute. And please remember: you never know when your “small things” might lead to great glory.
-Patrick Swayne  
patrick@tftw.org

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