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.…
Now let us look, for a moment or two, at these three principles.
I. From the highest point of view, TRUE FAITHFULNESS KNOWS NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN GREAT AND SMALL DUTIES. From the highest point of view — that is, from God's point of view — to Him, nothing is great, nothing small, as we measure it. The worth and the quality of an action depends on its motive only, and not at all on its prominence, or on any other of the accidents which we are always apt to adopt as the tests of the greatness of our deeds. The largeness of the consequences of anything that we do is no measure of the true greatness or true value of it. So it is in regard to God Himself, and His doings. What can be little to the making of which there goes the force of a soul that can know God, and must abide for evermore? Nothing is small that a spirit can do. Nothing is small that can be done from a mighty motive. Faithfulness measures acts as God measures them. "Large" or "small" are not words for the vocabulary of conscience. It knows only two words — right and wrong. The circle that is in a gnat's eye is as true a circle as the one that holds within its sweep all the stars; and the sphere that a dew-drop makes is as perfect a sphere as that of the world. All duties are the same which are done from the same motive; all acts which are not so done are alike sins. Faithfulness is one in every region. Large or small is of no account to the Sovereign eye. "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward," because though not gifted with the prophet's tongue, he has the prophet's spirit, and does his small act of hospitality from the very same prophet-impulse which in another, who is more loftily endowed, leads to burning words and mighty deeds. Faithfulness is faith. fulness, on whatsoever scale it be set forth!
II. Then — in another point of view, FAITHFULNESS IN SMALL DUTIES IS EVEN GREATER THAN FAITHFULNESS IN GREAT. Great things that are great because they seem to have very wide-reaching consequences, and seem to be lifted up upon a pinnacle of splendour; or great things that are great because there was severe resistance that had to be overcome before we did them, and sore temptations that were dragging us down on our way to the performance of them — are really great and lofty. Only, the little duties that had no mighty consequences, no glittering splendour about them, and the little duties that had not much strife with temptation before they were done, may be as great, as great in God's eye, as great perhaps in their consequences, as great in their rewards, as in the other. Ah, my brother, it is a far harder thing, and it is a far higher proof of a thorough-going persistent Christian principle woven into the very texture of my soul, to go on plodding and patient, never taken by surprise by any small temptation, than to gather into myself the strength which God has given me, and, expecting some great storm to come down upon me, to stand fast and let it rage. It is a great deal easier to die once for Christ than to live always for Him. It is a great deal easier to do some single mighty act of self-surrender, than daily — unnoticed, patiently — to "crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts." Let us neither repine at our narrow spheres, nor fancy that we can afford to live carelessly in them because they are narrow. The smallest duties are often harder — because of their apparent insignificance, because of their constant recurrence — harder than the great ones. But do not let us forget that if harder, they are on the whole more needful. The world has more need of a great number of Christian people doing little things like Christians, than it has need of one apostle preaching like an apostle, or one martyr dying like a martyr. The mass of trifles makes magnitude. The little things are greater than the great, because of their number. They are more efficacious than the single lofty acts. Like the air which in the lungs needs to be broken up into small particles, and diffused ere it parts with its vitalizing principle to the blood, so the minute acts of obedience, and the exhibition of the power of the gospel in the thousand trifles of Christian lives, permeating everywhere, will vitalize the world and will preach the gospel in such a fashion as never can be done by any single and occasional, though it may seem to be more lofty and more worthy, agency. Honour the trifles, and you will find yourself right about the great things! Lastly: FAITHFULNESS IN THAT WHICH IS LEAST IS THE PREPARATION FOR, AND SECURES OUR HAVING A WIDER SPHERE IN WHICH TO OBEY GOD. Of course, it is quite easy to see how, if once we are doing, what I have already said is the harder task — habitually doing the little things wisely and well, for the love of Christ and in the fear of God — we shall be fitted for the sorest sudden temptations, and shall be made able to perform far larger and far more apparently splendid acts. Every power strengthens by exercise. Every act of obedience smoothes the road for all that shall come after. And, on the other side, the same process exactly goes on to make men, by slow degrees, unfaithful in all. Tampering with a trifle; saying, Oh, it is a small matter, and I can venture it; or, It is a little thing, too little for mighty motives to be brought to bear upon it — that ends in this — "unjust also in much." My brother, life is all great. Life is great because it is the aggregation of littles. As the chalk cliffs in the South, that rear themselves hundreds of feet above the crawling sea beneath, are all made up of the minute skeletons of microscopic animalculae; so life, mighty and awful as having eternal consequences, life that towers beetling over the sea of eternity, is made up of these minute incidents, of these trifling duties, of these small tasks; and if thou art not "faithful in that which is least," thou art unfaithful in the whole. He only is faithful that is full of faith.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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.