Doing the Little Things

Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

  • 2 Kings 13:18-19

“God may call us to do some big things in our lives, but being obedient to God in the little things He calls us to do on a day—to—day basis is critical. Too often we don’t see the importance of the little things because they seem so insignificant. Or sometimes we are not sure that we can pull them off, so we end up stopping short of where we know God wants us to go.
In almost every football game there are a couple of crucial downs that determine the outcome of the game. You just don’t know beforehand which ones they will be. Every play could be game changing. Doing the little things right is critical in those situations. …
“The little things we fail to do or fail to see—and the result is less than we planned. The little things we fail to do can make us come up short of where we wanted to be. How many victories in our lives are we missing because we fail to do the little things or we pull up just a couple of yards short? How many victories in our lives are just around the next corner, but we stop walking and never get to that corner?”

  • Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker, The One Year Uncommon Life (Devotion for 22 November)

First, the Scripture shows a king thrash the ground with arrows three times.  Elisha was upset that he did not go 5-6 times to thoroughly defeat the enemy.  But did the king understand what he was doing?  Kings are not asked to do physical labor.  The king was probably exhausted after three times.

Dungy wrote in the devotion beyond what is copied here, in explaining how execution of a play in football can lead to a negative result or at least an inadequate result.

When I was in ROTC, we studied the Korean War in detail, but not as much the strategy and tactics involved as much as it was the congressional interference.  It was the first time a war was taken away from the leaders in the field due to political ramifications that would change who the soldiers were fighting against.  As a result, the Vietnam War was won when looking at death totals on both sides, but it was lost in that what the USA went in there to prevent happened after many, many US lives were lost.  The first Gulf War was left unfinished and the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan is not a duplicate of Vietnam, because it was worse.

The politicians strike the floor once or twice and they have assured themselves reelection, but they have only made matters worse.  Punch an enemy in the nose, but not knocked down?  The enemy will get to his feet soon enough, and he’ll be angry.

But Tony Dungy’s point is just as easily illustrated on a field of domesticity rather than a football field or a field of combat.

We went to a funeral in Texas and returned to gnats in the house.  Cleaning here or there does not remove the gnats.  A thorough cleaning is required.

C. S. Lewis wrote about the concept of a gift was that the result should be that they do not need the gift any longer.

We do not do that.  We give someone food and they will be hungry tomorrow.  The concept of feeding someone a fish dinner or teaching someone how to fish is lost in our government today.  Giving them a fish dinner means that they will vote for you during the next election.  Showing them how to fish and they might think independently and vote elsewhere.

But does the church not do the same thing?

When a roof is needed, we replace the roof.  When they need a wheelchair ramp, we put one in.  These are all good things, but do we tell them that God loves them?  Do we illustrate and vocalize our glory to God in our work?

A soul saved and going to Heaven is eternally more important, and the seed that makes that happen might be a simple, tiny thing.  But are we too busy letting them know that church XYZ was here to work on their roof?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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