The Bare Soul
November 25, 2012
Thankful for Small Things
The following is the message
text and audio recording of a sermon titled "Thankful for Small Things" delivered
to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on November 22, 2012.
Thankful for Small Things -
Zechariah 4:10 - For who has despised the day of small things? But these
seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these
are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.
I once heard a story about a wealthy retired man who would often take his evening stroll, ever watchful for lost coins along his way. This fellow had no need for the money he would on occasion find. He was known to beam as his eye spotted a quarter, or dime, or even a penny on the sidewalk. He would gingerly pick it up, look toward the sky with a gesture of thanks, and be merrily on his way. Through the years, this behavior became noticeable to all those in the community. Finally, one day one of his neighbors became so curious about the old gentleman's behavior that she questioned him regarding his peculiarity. "Why is it," she asked, "do you get so excited when you find a coin on the streets? After all, everyone in town knows you are one of the wealthiest men in these parts. So, why do you care about a little piece of change?" The wise old gentleman looked at her with a watery eye and said, "Why, it is out of gratitude, of course!" She was a bit dumbfounded regarding what he meant as he could see by the quizzical look on her face. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a penny and asked, "What is the inscription on this penny?" She turned it this way and that and said, "United States of America, One Cent ... ." He interrupted her and said, "Now, turn it over and tell me what it says." She saw the bust of Lincoln and above him in the upper circumference she read "In God We Trust." She looked at the old man's face where a tear had begun to fall. "You see," he said, "These are just small gifts from God lying at my feet, waiting to be picked up. They are a loving reminder how God is always there for me to trust in Him for all my needs. They are small tokens with a reminder for the finder to cherish. However, only if they know what they have found." While this was a small and insignificant thing in the eyes of those who would watch the old man, there was something far greater at work than any of them realized. Things are often not as they seem. While some would discourage themselves to bend over and pick up a penny, others such as this retired gentleman saw the value in doing so.
Similarly, our lead verse relates a situation where perspective is imperative. The context is a prophet speaking a word of encouragement to a people who were losing hope. The monumental task of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem seemed overwhelming. The governor and his workers had laid the foundation of the House of God yet there was so much to do. How could such a huge undertaking be accomplished when they had so far to go? They did not see the significance of their labors in relation to the hardships they were facing. The ridicule from their enemies in even attempting such a huge undertaking had begun to take its toll. Most importantly, they just did not know if it was worth putting their lives in jeopardy as there was always the threat of attack. At this crucial time, Zechariah the prophet tells them the very hands who had laid the foundation of this House would complete it (Zechariah 4:9). They did not need to worry, for to despise "the day of small things" is to bring God's honor in contempt. For what God had ordained, the Lord would finish as His eyes were on this work from beginning to end.
How often are we ungrateful for the small things in our lives which are meant to produce big things? The Israelites became discouraged in the great work God had given them. However, all they needed was a word of encouragement from prophets such as Zechariah and Haggai to complete what they had begun. Like the Israelites, we often want to discount things as too small to matter in our lives because we do not see their value in the big scheme of things. Much of this sort of attitude is often born out of ingratitude. We do not appreciate small things because we do not possess the wisdom to understand what God wants to construct from these small beginnings. Or, our apathy of not wanting to put forth the effort is sometimes a cause for halting the small things from becoming big things. In the same way that small things or insignificant beginnings can become large victories in our lives, they can also become large defeats or a pattern of hopelessness if we allow them to develop from a wrong perspective. It is at these times we must marshal our affections and focus on the larger picture rather than the momentary focus which may seem insignificant.
God will not trust us with the large things until we can be thankful for the small. Our gratitude is often in direct proportion with His graciousness upon our respective lives. As the old gentleman demonstrated, it takes a keen eye to understand the significance in a lost coin. In the same way, it takes a wise heart to thank God in the day of small things, for this will only lead us to greater things for our families, our churches, and all those with whom we are in daily contact. We must simply look for the goodness in all that comes our way and be grateful for all God gives. When we become thankful, it opens up a new perspective or perhaps one in which we had long forgotten. Gratitude and thankfulness are the key to unlocking the door of small things which will inevitably bring us into the largeness of Christ's bounty. We must merely start today by surrendering to Jesus and allowing Him to open our eyes to all He has most graciously given. Then, as the old gentleman, we will be one of the wealthiest people in town -- fabulously rich in understanding for all God has done for us!
Most High God, thank You that You require hearts of gratitude from those who call upon Your name. It is a small price to pay for all You have given so freely. May we understand that in You we live, and move, and have our being. Everything is from Your hand and is to be received with thanksgiving. When we begin to embrace the small things, allow us to appreciate the big things you will inevitably entrust us with. We pray this in Jesus' Name and for His sake, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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