There is inherent power in doing the little things. In fact, some of the most notable people who changed history knew this, even as they accomplished great and noble strides for humanity. We should pay attention to their words of wisdom:
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” - Mother Teresa
“Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either” - Albert Einstein
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” - Helen Keller
And of course, the greatest world changer that ever lived, Jesus Christ said:
“…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).
Nothing impossible. It’s a spiritual principle that Jesus demonstrated by feeding thousands with a little boy’s lunch.
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Feeding the Five Thousand
“After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.’ One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?’ Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world’” (John 6:1-14).
This massive crowd was gathering and heading toward Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover holiday, similar to the thousands that pour into Times Square to ring in the New Year. It was a crowd of 5,000 heads of households (men), along with their wives and children, that came to witness the ministry of Jesus.
So the problem that needed to be resolved was how to feed a famished crowd without having food on hand. This was a big problem! And how does it get solved? Very simply, by someone doing something small – a boy who had five barely loaves and two small fish, gave Jesus his lunch.
Even though we would all recognize this gesture was small in relation to the size of their problem, we probably don’t understand just how small it was.
We might visualize “five barely loaves and two small fish” as equivalent to loaves of French bread and two Tilapia. But this was a little boy’s lunch, and the word used to describe the boy as a “lad,” refers to a boy between the ages of 5 and 7. So, his lunch would have been more similar to five crackers and two small sardines! That’s small.
Now, everybody there – including the disciples – felt like the only way to solve the problem is with a big solution. Recall that Philip said in verse 7 that two hundred denarii (about eight months of wages) couldn’t solve their problem. More than likely, the others nodded in agreement.
I imagine Jesus’ eyes lighting up with satisfaction as Andrew made the suggestion of the loaves and fish, possibly thinking, that’s it, he gets it. He understands! And then Andrew caved to the snickering and peer pressure, and adds “but what are they among so man?” (John 6:9b)
We fail to reach our potential, either as individuals or as communities (churches, neighborhood groups, school communities, charitable organizations), because we too often fall victim to this “what are they among so many” mentality.
What good will the once a month that I can serve do to make any difference in our kid’s ministry?
What good will my one compliment to a co-worker do to change the morale of our work environment?
What good will my small donation make in the bottom line of such a large organization?
There is a mindset that needs to be broken off that says the little things don’t really make any difference. It’s a lie that keeps us paralyzed in life, and prevents us from being proactive. It’s what leaves us as Christ followers in the pathetic state that James refers to:
We remain paralyzed in life because we have bought the lie that we are too insignificant to spark change, and too weak to be impactful. That our talent is too small and our time too limited. We believe that our treasure, our financial contribution, is insignificant to ever really make a difference.
But the truth is, there is power in one, no matter how small that may seem.
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The Power of One
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.” - Edward Everette Hale
Andrew understood (at least for a moment). But more importantly, the lad with the lunch understood that even one person doing something small, with the anointing of God, could make a big difference.
Is it any wonder why Jesus said:
“…I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
This little boy easily believed what the adult disciples struggled with, that big things could be solved through the power of doing something small. And guess who made history that day? The little boy. He believed that there is power in doing small things so much that he was moved to action.
“And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten” (John 6:11-13).
And because that little boy believed, people were drawn to Jesus as a result of it.
“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world’” (John 6:14).
How many people would be drawn to Christ if we, as His church, would begin to do more small things, like warmly greeting the people we come into contact with, or doing simple acts of kindness (can I get you a cup of coffee, pick you up anything from the store, help you meet your deadline, help with the dishes or the laundry or the homework).
Scripture is filled with examples, as well:
This widow woman gave her last bit of flour and oil, and saved her and her son’s life, and fed the Prophet of God during the famine (1 Kings 17:10-16).
Adam and Eve took one bite from an apple, and they caused the separation of mankind from God (Genesis 3).
David slung one stone in the direction of Goliath and won the victory that freed his nation (1 Samuel 17:48-50).
Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but thine be done,” and changed the eternal destiny of all who would place faith in Him. (Luke 22:42)
There is power in just one person doing something small. It is an undeniable truth!
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The Power of Everyone Doing Something Small
If there is such tremendous power in just one person doing something small, how much more power is there when a group of believers join hearts and minds, and collectively, synergistically, begin to work as a team? As we follow Jesus’ example together, I believe we can change the world!
There is a spiritual law that God wants his Church to understand, that is commonly called the Law of T.E.A.M. It means Together, Everyone Achieves More!
God highlights this principle in Scripture:
“It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
“…if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
“Two are better than one…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
It’s also called the Law of Synergy; that is, the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Whatever you call it, it’s time for His church to understand and act accordingly. In fact, the Apostle Paul describes how we are to function together as one Body, with Christ as the Head (1 Corinthians 12:14-31). We all have a vital part to play as one community of believers, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant that part appears.
In fact, I believe it is the key we need to reach our God-given potential as individuals and as a Church; we must tap into the power of everyone doing their small thing!
Are you ready to do your part?
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Originally published Monday, 18 September 2023.