We equate smallness with insignificance. So we celebrate birthdays but not ordinary days. We introduce ourselves to the CEO instead of our new officemate. We applaud graduation speeches and poetic sermons yet hush the little girl sitting next to us.
In so doing we make a value statement about what matters in life: bigness, brilliance, and uniqueness. But what if the moments that mattered most were the quiet ones? What if the people of greatest significance were those without nameplates or titles? What if the most impactful words we ever heard were uttered in whispers and high pitches?
Flip through the pages of scripture and you’ll find simplicity celebrated and smallness honored. Jesus even highlighted the value of commonness using a simple story. He told a tale about a master, his money, and a trio of men. Each received a sum of money—ten, five, or one talent—measured out according to his ability (Matthew 25:14-30).
Two men leveraged their assets, traded their capital, and multiplied their earnings. The third man, who also received the least amount, hid his money in a hole. When the master returned he commended two and cursed one. Why? Because their stewardship in the smallness revealed their heart to serve him.
As I reflect on the master’s evaluation, I’m struck by the reward the first two servants received. “Well done good and faithful servant,” the master said. “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Each man received both a promotion and private admittance into the master’s joy. Given Matthew’s placement of the story, it appears such joy is ultimately heaven. Both men would spend eternity serving and celebrating the master.
In light of eternity, everything we do on this earth is both strikingly small and strangely significant. How I work reveals what I believe. How I speak to my spouse shows what I value. What I celebrate and applaud determines the quality of my life today and tomorrow.
Ultimately our stewardship of smallness is an expression of our faith. Do we believe God evaluates our service? Do we think he acknowledges ordinariness? Do we trust that he really rewards faithfulness, even when it feels insignificant?
As I look over my life, I see a lot of small responsibilities. But instead of investing in these things, I often overlook them. Sometimes I fear the risk required. Sometimes I’m just lazy. But most of the time, I wonder if God really sees since others never seem to notice.
What separated the commended and cursed servants is the same thing that shapes us. The first two men knew the character of their master and chose to honor his investment. The third man wasted what little he had for lack of knowledge.
So as we approach our laundry hampers and earnings reports, family mealtimes and small group meetings, let’s approach them with reverence and attentiveness. In such places we encounter and esteem the God of small things.