He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.…
"Who has despised the day of small things?" Not the sagacious men of the world, to whom experience has taught the necessity of husbanding the minutes that make up days, and the pence that grow to pounds.
I. OUR LIVES FOR THE MOST PART ARE MADE UP OF LITTLE THINGS, AND BY THESE OUR PRINCIPLE IS TO BE TESTED. There are very few who have to take a prominent place in the great conflicts of their age, and to play their part in the arena of public life, The vast majority must dwell in humbler scenes, and be content to do a much meaner work. The conflicts which a Christian has to maintain, either against the evil in his own soul, or in the narrow circle where alone his influence is felt, appear to be very trivial and unimportant, yet are they to him the battle of life and for life, and true heroism is to he shown here as well as in those stander struggles in which some may win the leader's fame, or even the martyr's crown. It will stimulate us to faithfulness in such little things if we bear in mind the way in which the Master regards the humblest works that are done, and the poorest sacrifices that are made from a pure feeling of love to Him. He can recognize and bless the martyr-spirit even though it be shown in other ways than the endurance of bonds, or the suffering of death. There is not a tear of sympathy with the sorrows of others which we shed that falls without His knowledge. His presence is with us to encourage and strengthen us in these little as in the greater trials, and faithfulness here will have its own reward.
II. LITTLE DEFECTS WEAKEN THE INFLUENCE OF MANY VIRTUES. "One sinner" (the wise man tells us) "destroyeth much good," and then following out the principle he proceeds to show by an expressive illustration how a little sin or even folly m a good man may rob him of much of the power that otherwise he would possess for good. "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour." The world is always on the watch for the faults of Christians. But the point on which we wish chiefly to insist is that men's estimate of our character is regulated chiefly by their observation of little things.
III. LITTLE THINGS CONTRIBUTE MATERIALLY TO THE FORMATION OF CHARACTER. Under the operation of varied causes, of whose power over us we are hardly-conscious, we are continually growing in holiness or sinking lower and lower in sin, by a process so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible. Conversion may be sudden, but not sanctification. Our power of resistance is to grow by constant exercise; our love, fed by the ministry of Providence and grace, is to burn with an ever brighter and purer flame; our path is to be like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Thus, by listening to every voice of instruction, by using every opportunity, by watchfulness in the least things, are we to attain spiritual increase. There is a part of our Lancashire coast on which the sea is making steady encroachments. Those who have long been familiar with its scenery can point you to places over which the tide now rolls its waters, where a few short years ago they wandered along the grassy cliff, and stood to watch the play of the wild waves beneath. From year to year the observer may note continued alteration — fresh portions of the cliff swept away, and the bed of the ocean becoming ever wider. Were he to ask for an account of these changes, some would tell him that during a terrible tempest the sea had rolled in with more than its usual violence and carried away great fragments of solid earth — and fancy that thus they had told the whole story. His own eyes, however, gave him fuller information. He sees around him preparations for the desolations of the coming winter. Other places are now menaced with the fate of their predecessors, and the work is already being done — the process may be gradual, but sure — every tide of more than ordinary power is contributing something towards it — "by little and little" the work advances, and all is making ready for the fiercer storm which shall put the final stroke to what may seem to be the work of a night, but is in reality that of weeks and months. This is a picture but too true of incidents in the spiritual life of man. Sometimes the successive steps of the process are all hidden, and we see only the sad result; in others its advances may be more distinctly marked.
(J. G. Guinness, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.