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“It’s the little things that matter the most.” Have you ever heard that phrase? Perhaps you have spoken it yourself. It is said so often that it is a cliché. Yet, the thing about clichés is that often they begin and gain popularity because they reflect at least a grain of truth.

The little things do matter. Regular small words of appreciation for friends, family, employees, supervisors, and so on build them up and sustain relationships. Taking the car to the mechanic when it starts making a little noise can solve a problem before a more expensive repair is required. As a writer and editor, I confess that the easiest things to miss are the little things—the comma, transposed letters in a word, a Bible reference that is off by a verse or two, a small word such as not or no. Missing such things can change the entire meaning of a sentence or introduce confusion where there should be clarity.

Paying attention to little things and being faithful in them has always been vital. Our very salvation, in fact, depended on the little things. And conversely, unfaithfulness in little things has created scores of problems for God’s people throughout history. We are familiar with the great events of redemptive history—Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, Joshua’s invasion of Canaan, Esther’s boldness before the king of Persia, the death and resurrection of Christ. In God’s providence, we would not have been saved without these things. Yet, the Bible includes testimonies not only to spectacular miracles, to grand and risky actions, and to bold leaders, but also to little acts of faithfulness. Sometimes the featured characters of salvation history—the ones everyone remembers—served God faithfully in the little things. At other times, lesser-known figures performed little acts of faithfulness. But whether the person who was faithful in the little things was famous or not, this faithfulness has been used by God to save His people and edify His church. We will see this in our brief survey of Scripture’s testimony to faithfulness in the little things, referring from time to time also to significant acts of unfaithfulness in the little things.

The Primeval Period

Sadly, the first biblical example showing the importance of paying attention to the little things is the unfaithfulness that made our salvation necessary in the first place. We are talking, of course, about the sin of Adam and Eve. Created by God and set in a lush garden with everything they needed to fulfill the Lord’s mission, our first parents had one little thing in which they had to be faithful. Our Maker included in the commandments He gave to Adam and Eve one small negative law that said no to their eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our first parents had unfallen natures. They could eat every other fruit in the garden—indeed, on the planet. It was just a little thing not to eat the forbidden fruit. Yet, Adam and Eve were unfaithful in this one little thing. By eating the fruit, they plunged the world into sin (Gen. 3).

Noah was faithful in each tiny detail of the ark, and through the ark, God saved humanity.

Yet, we also find examples of faithfulness in the little things during the primeval era. Genesis 4:3–5 tells us that Abel paid attention to his flock, bringing to God the firstborn and the fat portions—the choicest items he had available. Certainly, Abel had to pay close attention to little things in order to do this. He had to remember which lambs were born first out of the many sheep that he had. He had to comb through the wool of his sheep looking for tiny defects that would disqualify a lamb as a worthy offering to the Lord. Abel did this, providing us with an example of true worship. Cain, Abel’s brother, stands out in contrast. He did not pay attention to the little things when he collected produce for his offering. The text seems to indicate that Cain did not offer the first and the best. He gave only as an afterthought. Perhaps he did not inspect each little grape, each tiny pomegranate seed, to make sure that it was blemish free and fit to give to God.

In considering primeval faithfulness, we cannot forget Noah. Genesis 6:9 tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” The phrase “walked with God” refers to daily communion with and service to the Lord. We are not talking about anything spectacular here. Noah did not do any grand miracles before building the ark, nor did he do such things afterward. He was but one man in a world full of unrighteousness, a single holy person who, though a sinner, was true to the Creator overall in the big things and in the little things when no one else was. Noah was not faithful in the small things for merely a short period. Genesis 7:6 informs us that he was six hundred years old when he entered the ark with his family. Six centuries of faithfulness preceded his critical role during the great flood, including the years spent building an ark that would survive the deluge and not spring a leak for the 150 days that the waters prevailed on the earth (v. 24). Each measurement had to be exact, each little crack sealed with pitch to create a seaworthy vessel that could preserve human and animal alike (6:14–16). Noah was faithful in each tiny detail of the ark, and through the ark, God saved humanity.

The Patriarchal Era

It is no surprise that we also see faithfulness in the small things during the patriarchal era. At several critical points, God used a patriarch’s faithfulness in little duties to advance His plan of salvation.

Jacob took a lifetime to learn that employing deceit is not the way to serve the Lord. But even as this trickster was using his wits to get out of tight spots, he paid attention to little things. Consider his time living with Laban. Thinking that he would get to marry Laban’s daughter Rachel, Jacob spent seven years faithfully serving his future father-in-law. Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, he did all the tasks, big and small, that Laban gave to him. Then, after Laban tricked him into marrying Leah, Jacob spent another seven years faithfully serving his father-in-law so he could wed Rachel. For seven more years, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, Jacob did everything Laban asked (Gen. 29:1–30). What was the result of all this? Jacob received two wives who gave birth to the twelve tribes of Israel, the nation through whom God would give the world His Messiah. Furthermore, Jacob’s faithful service to Laban in the little things built up Jacob’s wealth as well as Laban’s, enabling the patriarch to support his family and see it grow in the years after his time as Laban’s servant (29:31–30:24).

Joseph, the son of Jacob, suffered much in his lifetime. Yet, through it all, he was faithful in the little things. Starting out as a lowly slave in the house of Potiphar, Joseph became the overseer of the household because of his persistent attention to Potiphar’s affairs. Simply put, one would not be promoted to such a high position in the household of an important Egyptian official unless he made sure to remember all the tiny details involved in running a house well. Thus, Potiphar “left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate” (39:1–6). Joseph was so faithful to Potiphar that he resisted the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife. We might have expected Joseph, when he landed in prison because Potiphar believed his wife over the report of his faithful steward, to have thought to himself: “This faithfulness in the small things is pointless. Look where it got me. I’ll just do my own thing and look out for myself from now on” (see 39:7–20). But if Joseph ever had such a thought, he never acted on it. God gave Joseph favor in the eyes of the prison keeper, yes, but we cannot think this happened apart from Joseph’s faithfulness in the little things. The prison keeper saw in Joseph the same attention to detail that Potiphar saw, and he put Joseph in charge of the prisoners (vv. 21–23). We know what happened next. Joseph became known as an interpreter of dreams, which led to his serving Pharaoh, providing food to the nations during a great famine, and bringing his family to Egypt where they could grow into the nation of Israel. Joseph trod this path by being faithful in the little things, which in turn blessed the world with food and with the nation from whom the Savior would come.

The survival of God’s faithful people in every generation has depended on mothers and fathers who are faithful in the little things to teach their children the ways of God.
The Exodus Era

At the start of the exodus era, we see the critical role of women who were faithful in the little things. What is the job of a midwife but to help sustain the life of mother and child during childbirth? That job requires paying attention to a host of little details: the breathing and groans of the mother; the position of the baby in the birth canal; the presence or absence of clean towels, water, and other supplies. Remembering those tiny but critical things is stressful enough, but in the exodus era, the Hebrew midwives had the added complication of a royal decree calling them to kill the male newborn infants of Israel. However, at least two of these midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, did not neglect the little things. They continued to faithfully serve the Hebrew mothers, helping them birth the baby boys (and girls), paying attention to the tiny details so that the women and children would be safe in childbirth, and disobeying the Pharaoh so that the boys would survive thereafter. On account of the faithfulness these midwives showed in the little things, God’s people grew in number. Shiphrah and Puah’s names are even remembered forever in God’s Word (Ex. 1:15–22). Two ordinary midwives, not trying to be famous, probably not thinking that they were doing anything but being faithful in their ordinary duties, are not forgotten. Others may overlook the faithfulness of regular people in the small things, but God will not.

We are familiar with how the quick thinking of Moses’ mother, Jochebed, saved her son. But do we also take notice of her faithfulness in the little things? Receiving Moses back from Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse him, Jochebed faithfully did the work of the mother. Despite the effort and weariness involved, feeding and caring for an infant fall under what we may call the “little things.” Caring for a baby involves some of the most ordinary, unsung tasks of life. It requires no special talents, just the attention to how much the baby is eating, the time between feedings, and other such things. Dozens of small matters must be attended to daily, even hourly, if the baby is to grow and thrive. Jochebed was faithful in these small things, and Moses grew (2:1–10; see 6:20). Eventually, he became the leader to deliver Israel from Egypt. No one should underestimate what can be accomplished when a mother is faithful in the small things related to caring for her children.

After the Israelites left Egypt, we read about “Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman” to whom the Lord gave skills in metalworking, textile fabrication, wood carving, and other trades (36:1). These individuals were faithful in the little things of the tabernacle, crafting it exactly according to the plan God gave to Moses, down to the tiniest details. Because they were faithful in the little things, God’s people had a tabernacle where the Lord would dwell and that would point them to the One who would take on our humanity and “tabernacle” among us (36:2–40:38; John 1:1–14).

Before we move on from the exodus era, we must consider Deuteronomy 6:4–9. While on the plains of Moab just before entering the promised land, the ancient Israelites heard from Moses the central confession of their faith—“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”—as well as the exhortation to teach their children the commandments of God in every part of life. The Israelites were to instruct their sons and daughters while they were at home, while they were traveling, while they were lying down, and while they were rising. They were called to be faithful in teaching even the “little commandments,” the regulations of the Lord that might seem minor compared to laws such as the Ten Commandments. They had to guide their children even during the small, quiet moments—the five minutes between sitting at the table and receiving their dinner, the three minutes it took to help the three-year-old pull his robe over his head, the one minute it took to give the kids a kiss good night and put out the candle. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day—in work and at play, when the children were in the mood to listen and when they were not—ancient Israelite parents had to be faithful in teaching their sons and daughters the law of God. This was work that very few people saw and that frustrated mothers and fathers at times. After all, getting their children to pay attention to the law was not necessarily any easier for them than it is for us. But daily faithfulness in teaching even the “little” commands and in taking advantage of tiny moments for instruction over time produced faithful servants of God. We hear about a few of these parents in Scripture, but the vast majority of them go unnamed. But those seven thousand who would not bow the knee to Baal in the days of Elijah—most, if not all, of them were faithful perhaps because their parents had taught them not to worship false gods (1 Kings 19:18). The grace of God always produced and sustained a faithful remnant in Israel. But the Lord used parents who were faithful in the little things, who persevered in teaching all of the Lord’s commands both “little” and “big” to keep that remnant. No one can overestimate how the survival of God’s faithful people in every generation has depended on mothers and fathers who are faithful in the little things to teach their children the ways of God.

The Era of Joshua and the Judges

As in every era of redemptive history, faithfulness in the little things—or lack thereof—had an incredible impact during the era of Joshua and the judges. We remember Joshua’s era as one largely characterized by faithfulness. For instance, Rahab was faithful in the little things by showing hospitality to the Israelite spies. The very ordinary practice of doing good to her guests ended up saving their lives and allowed them to bring critical intelligence to Joshua regarding the city of Jericho (Josh. 2).

Yet, in Joshua’s day, an episode of unfaithfulness in the little things nearly derailed the conquest. God commanded the Israelites not to keep any of the “devoted things”—gold, silver, and other precious items—for themselves when they laid siege to Jericho. Achan of Judah, however, was unfaithful. He kept for himself a fine cloak and 250 shekels of silver and gold—less than 125 ounces in today’s measurements—instead of putting them in the Lord’s treasury. In light of the wealth available from Jericho, this was a small amount. It was a small thing that Achan did not take seriously and a small matter in which he did not obey. Yet, Achan’s sin ended up causing the Israelites’ defeat in their first attack on Ai, almost putting a halt to the conquest of Canaan (chs. 6–7).

During the leadership of the judges, unfaithfulness in the small things was the order of the day. We remember Samson as perhaps the greatest of the judges, yet he was unfaithful in the tiny things related to his Nazirite vow. By the end of his life, Samson violated all of the Nazirite requirements—little, relatively easy things such as not drinking alcohol, not cutting his hair, and not going near dead bodies. God used him to eliminate many Philistines, but his unfaithfulness in the little things put him in a position where he lost his life in the process (Judg. 13–16; see Num. 6).

Of course, some of God’s people were faithful in the little things during the era of the judges as well. Consider Ruth the Moabitess, who would not break the fifth commandment even when her mother-in-law Naomi gave her a way out. Ruth clung to Naomi and went above and beyond in honoring her. Her little acts of faithfulness in looking out for Naomi and in gathering food for her did not go unnoticed by Boaz. He saw her faithfulness in the small things—the ordinary, daily labor required to support her family—and realized that this was no ordinary woman. That’s the thing about “small” matters: it can be easier to be faithful in the big things of life, to make the really important decisions, than it is to persevere in the daily grind of ordinary obedience and care. It takes hard, often unnoticed work to be faithful in the small things, but such faithfulness is the stuff noble servants of God are made of. Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi ended up carrying the line of Judah on through David and beyond to David’s greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Ruth 1–4; Matt. 1:1–17).

The Age of Kings and Prophets

Saul, Israel’s first king, learned the importance of faithfulness in the little things the hard way. When called to utterly destroy the Amalekites, their king, and their flocks, Saul paid attention to the little things but in the wrong way. He was supposed to kill every animal and every person, but he initially spared the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, and he took the time to separate out the choice animals and preserve them. It took attention to the little details of the animals to figure out which were of high quality and which were not. By attending to those little things, Saul was actually unfaithful, for the Lord ordered the animals’ deaths. As a consequence, the Lord rejected Saul from being king over Israel (1 Sam. 15).

That brings us to David, the greatest king of ancient Israel, a man renowned for his prowess in battle and dedication to the Lord. But how often do we remember that David paved the way for his kingly success by being faithful in the little things during his youth? Before being selected as king, during his formative years, David faithfully tended the flock of his father Jesse. Like other good shepherds, he had to know the sheep by name, keep an eye out for minute signs of disease or injury, memorize the safe paths for travel, know how to recognize the choicest pastures for feeding, be alert to the presence of sneaky predators, and be aware of a host of other small things. To fight off predatory animals, he had to become an expert sharpshooter with his sling, to train regularly even when he did not feel like it, developing his aim. To get to the point where he could stun or even kill a predator going after his sheep, David had to train for accuracy, focusing on little things such as the weight of the stone, the force of the throw, the proper distance from which to fire his sling, and more. Yes, the Lord was with David to give him victory over Goliath, but David’s success in felling the giant likely resulted from his years of practicing with his sling (1 Sam. 16–17). Such care in the small things doubtless benefited him in providing training for battle strategies. If one learns how to outwit and outfight a sneaky wolf, he is well prepared to put down a crafty soldier.

Solomon fell into idolatry near the end of his life, but his earlier faithfulness and care in the little things provided God’s people with a treasure of wisdom that transcends the ages. “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure,” and Solomon faithfully used this gift as he paid attention to the details of the created order—the strength and majesty of Lebanon’s cedars; the behavior of beasts, birds, reptiles, and fish (1 Kings 4:29–34). He was faithful to look for the little ways in which all of these things show wisdom even for human beings, and the fruit of his labors is found in the book of Proverbs. Many of the biblical proverbs are based on analogies drawn with the natural world (e.g., Prov. 6:6–11; 27:18).

Speaking of the book of Proverbs, its very existence testifies to the impact of being faithful in the little things. The book of Proverbs seems to present itself as a tool for teaching young men and women wisdom and the fear of the Lord (1:7–8). Since it was assembled under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit many centuries ago, the book of Proverbs has been used by God’s people to equip their children and even adults to serve our Creator. We do not read about every man and woman in the history of the covenant community who has been devoted to the little details in Proverbs. Yet, like the commandments given through Moses, the biblical proverbs have been impressed upon people day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year (see Deut. 6:4–9). The power that has come from being faithful in the little moments to teach these “little” proverbs is incalculable. We dare not overlook what parents and church leaders can accomplish in sustaining and maturing God’s people through teaching the little nuggets of wisdom found in God’s Word, including in the book of Proverbs.

Many examples of faithfulness in the small things in Scripture have to do with hospitality. In the ancient cultures that first received the Scriptures, hospitality was such a given that we can count it as a little thing. In other words, people were expected to be hospitable even to strangers, but especially to the servants of the Lord. Even though caring for guests takes effort, it was a “little thing,” an everyday expectation woven into society, something not out of the ordinary. During the era of the kings of Israel and Judah, we have two notable instances of faithful hospitality. The widow of Zarephath fed the prophet Elijah with the little food she had remaining, and the Shunammite woman made a room in which Elisha could lodge when he was in town (1 Kings 17:8–16; 2 Kings 4:8–17). These women faithfully served God’s prophets in the “little work” of hospitality and in all of the ordinary things that go with it—making the bed, preparing a meal, and so on. Their faithfulness in the small things sustained the prophets in their vital work. Who can estimate the amount of good that the hospitality of God’s people has produced throughout church history when preachers, missionaries, and others have found the saints hospitable in times of need?

God has always expected His people to give testimony to the work and glory of the Lord of Israel. That is at least part of what it means for the children of God to be a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6; Ps. 71:17; Matt. 28:18–20; 1 Peter 2:9). This, too, can be considered a little thing. Many full-time missionaries have a specific calling to make this witness bearing their life’s work and to go to out-of-the-way places to accomplish it. Most of us, on the other hand, must bear witness in the course of everyday, ordinary life. Much as we teach our children the commandments of God during the small moments of normal life, so also we must bear witness to the Lord at those times. In the days of Elisha, when the Syrian general Naaman contracted leprosy, an unnamed Israelite servant girl in Naaman’s household bore witness to the God of Israel and His word through His prophet. This testimony during her ordinary duties, her faithfulness to bear witness to God in the little things, bore fruit in Naaman’s conversion (2 Kings 5:1–19).

Centuries later, King Josiah of Judah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (22:1–2). In other words, Josiah was faithful to the law in all matters, even in the little things. He did not overlook the “minor commandments.” And in his day, Judah experienced a brief revival and a reprieve from the wrath of God (22:3–23:25). After Josiah’s death, the kings of Judah returned to unfaithfulness in things both large and small, and the people of God suffered the curse of exile.

Finally, before we move on to the exile, consider Baruch, the faithful scribe who served the prophet Jeremiah. Baruch paid attention to the little things when he did his work, taking care to record every jot and tittle Jeremiah dictated to him. At times, this work seemed fruitless. For example, the wicked king Jehoiakim burned the scroll Baruch produced when he heard of the divine judgment prophesied against him. How do you think Baruch felt when he saw his careful work go up in flames? The Bible does not tell us, but Baruch was a human being just like the rest of us. No doubt he felt discouraged, perhaps even asking himself, “What is the point of all this care if my work is going to be burned up?” Yet, when Baruch was told to produce a new scroll with the same words and some additional ones, he did the job. He paid attention to the little things again, taking down every word God revealed through Jeremiah, not lifting his pen until the scroll was completed. Because Baruch was faithful in the little things and paid attention to the details in his work, we have the book of Jeremiah to edify us today (Jer. 36).

In the ministry of Jesus, the faithfulness of women really stands out.
Exile and Return

While God’s people were in exile in Babylon, we find instances of faithfulness in the little things on display in the life of the prophet Daniel. One little matter in which Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah showed faithfulness was their diet. Taken to serve in the Babylonian court, these young men were allotted a daily portion of food and wine from the king. This food and drink would have violated the old covenant food laws and perhaps also was associated with idolatry. While important, the food laws were certainly among the less weighty matters of the law in relation to things such as mercy and justice (see Matt. 23:23–24). Yet, Daniel and his friends proved faithful in these “little laws.” They refused to corrupt themselves with the king’s food, choosing to become vegetarians lest they eat what was forbidden. God blessed their faithfulness in the little things, and the men grew in their wisdom beyond the other Babylonian officials (Dan. 1).

When the Jews came back from the exile, they found the walls of Jerusalem destroyed and unable to protect the people from invading armies, robbers, and other foes. Nehemiah led the effort to rebuild the walls, work that required much attention to little details including making an assessment of the damage, figuring out what to tear down and what could be salvaged, assigning the right people to fix the various portions of the wall, and so forth. The book of Nehemiah testifies to Nehemiah’s faithfulness in supervising the reconstruction of the wall. He kept an eye on all the details both large and small, with his faithful service resulting in a new wall to guard the Holy City.

The Dawn of the New Covenant

We do not have a divinely inspired source regarding the faithfulness of God’s people during the four hundred years between the cessation of prophecy after Malachi and the restoration of prophecy in the first century AD with the ministry of John the Baptist. Still, much extrabiblical literature testifies to the commitment of many Jews in this era to the law of God. The New Testament even bears indirect witness to the faithfulness of many Jews in the little things. After all, you do not get righteous people such as Zechariah and Elizabeth—the parents of John the Baptist—or Mary and Joseph—the mother and adoptive father of Jesus—unless their forefathers and foremothers passed down the knowledge of God across generations. Certainly, the faith of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph resulted in no small part from the efforts of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on to teach the law of God in their families in everyday life and to hand down the wisdom of Proverbs and other biblical books (Matt. 1; Luke 1:1–2:7; see Deut. 6:4–9; Prov. 1:7–8).

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s article in this issue focuses on the faithfulness of Christ in the little things, but He was not the only faithful Jew during His time walking the earth. We have already mentioned the faith of Mary and Joseph, but let us note how it was on display from the moment Jesus was born. Luke 2:22–24 informs us of their attention to the details of the law when they went up to Jerusalem to offer the purification sacrifices. They gave a pair of birds, the sacrifice allowed when poor parents dedicated their child to God (Lev. 12). Although this was a ritual requirement, we can perhaps call it a small thing. Impoverished families certainly could have found something “better” or more immediately necessary on which to spend their limited funds. But Mary and Joseph were faithful to all of God’s laws, even those that seemed to be of less importance or of lower priority in relation to their poverty. And while we are looking at this episode, let us not forget the prophetess Anna and the devout man Simeon. Anna and Simeon both received some kind of special revelation from the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Luke 2:25–38). But how did they know to look for the Messiah to come, for the “consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem”? The answer must be that they were devout individuals who paid attention to all of God’s Word. Because they knew even the “little” parts of Scripture, they expected a Savior for Israel.

Once the public ministry of Jesus began, many people were faithful in the little things, blessing our Lord and enabling His work to continue. Just about everyone who has ever been in a children’s Sunday school class probably had a lesson about the boy who donated five loaves and two fishes to Jesus on one of the occasions that our Savior multiplied food to feed thousands of people. This was a small amount of food and a little gesture of faithfulness. But this faithfulness in the little things gave Jesus food that He could multiply to feed the crowd and reveal Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6).

In the ministry of Jesus, the faithfulness of women really stands out. Consider, for example, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, who faithfully performed the little duties of hospitality to serve Jesus and His disciples and meet their needs for food and drink when they visited Capernaum (Luke 4:38–39). Luke’s gospel also describes women such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna who provided the funds for the supplies and travel needs that were necessary for Jesus and the disciples to do ministry (8:1–3). Many, if not all, of these women were wealthy, so it was likely only a small sacrifice for them to contribute to the work of Jesus and the Twelve. But they were faithful in supporting our Lord as He traveled and taught.

While we are on the subject of women who were faithful in the little things during the ministry of Jesus, we cannot forget the women who came with Jesus from Galilee and were present at His crucifixion and burial. They paid attention to where Jesus’ body was laid, and they prepared spices and ointments for embalming Him. They had to get the quantities of these embalming ingredients just right, paying attention to tiny details and amounts. It would have been an easy thing to forget this work altogether—Jesus had died a criminal’s death at the hands of Rome, and there was some risk involved with being associated with Him. But these women—Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James—and several others were faithful in the little things of Jesus’ burial. And in their faithfulness, they were blessed to be the first witnesses to our Lord’s resurrection (Luke 23:55–24:11).

Faithfulness in the little things means seeing things through to the end, carrying out the details until the job is done. The women did this with respect to the burial of Jesus, but we also see the faithfulness of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in a similar way when Christ died. They provided the tomb and the initial spices for embalming Jesus’ body and also carried out the task of wrapping His body with linen. These men provided for Jesus’ burial at considerable financial expense to themselves. Still, it was a “little thing,” for it involved being faithful when the other disciples fled, carrying their discipleship through in the small details until what they doubtless thought was the end (John 19:38–42).

We need to be faithful in the little things that God has called us to do.
The Apostolic Era

We looked mostly at Luke’s gospel when we considered how many people were faithful in the little things during Jesus’ ministry. However, let us not ignore Luke himself. We have the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts because Luke the physician was faithful in the small things. He carefully consulted sources on the life of Christ and the Apostolic ministry, tracking down the minor details, getting the words of key figures correct, checking and rechecking his work to give us an orderly account of our Savior’s ministry and the work of the Apostles after Christ’s ascension (Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–3). Additionally, Luke traveled with Paul, faithfully serving the Apostle wherever Paul needed him. Luke was even with Paul at the end of his life, faithfully attending to him (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11). Surely it is not overspeculating to say that Luke was faithful in taking care of the little things related to Paul’s ministry as the Apostle’s friend and doctor, providing various little treatments and assistance where he could to ease Paul’s burdens—placing and removing stitches, securing medicines, taking notes on the Apostle’s sermons, and so forth.

Priscilla and Aquila also stand out as being faithful in the little things during the Apostolic era. Discipleship can be an arduous task. Doing it well takes a strong commitment and perseverance in teaching in season and out of season, taking advantage of little moments and conversations just as parents must do when they are training their children in the law of God. Priscilla and Aquila faithfully discipled Apollos in the little things, for he “taught accurately the things concerning Jesus”—the gospel essentials—but he needed help with understanding the matters not central to what is required to believe for our salvation (Acts 18:24–28).

The Apostles name many individuals who faithfully served them as they carried out their Apostolic ministry. We have already mentioned Luke, but the closing greetings of the epistles list many other men and women. One other helper stands out—Epaphroditus, who served Paul as an assistant and courier, bringing gifts from the Philippian church to support the Apostle while he was in prison in Rome. The task of bringing these funds certainly had its less-than-glamorous aspects: travel plans had to be made; small details such as what to pack needed attention. But Epaphroditus was faithful in all the things both big and small needed to get the job done. He even almost died in the process, but that did not quench his fervor to be faithful in the little things (Phil. 2:19–30; 4:18).

Last but not least, Paul’s commendation of the faith of Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother, respectively, testifies to the importance of faithfulness in the little things. Here were two more women in the covenant community who followed the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4–9 to impress on their children the law of God. How else would Timothy have been acquainted from childhood with the “sacred writings”—the Scriptures—that make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15)? The faithfulness of these women to teach God’s Word in the little, ordinary moments of Timothy’s upbringing gave the church a dedicated servant of God and faithful pastor.

Faithfulness Matters

We have been able to give only a few highlights of how faithfulness in the little things was critical in the history of salvation. From well-known figures such as Jacob, David, and Mary to lesser-known individuals such as Puah, unnamed fathers in Israel, and Eunice, faithfulness in the small matters, in the details, has been used of God to build His kingdom. But God continues to tell His story; He continues to work out His purposes leading up to the consummation of His kingdom at the return of Jesus Christ. As we have seen, we do not need to be famous or great leaders in order to play important roles in this story. We need to be faithful in the little things that God has called us to do.

Our Call to Faithfulness

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From the July 2019 Issue
Jul 2019 Issue