The word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah in the form of a question: “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10 Zechariah 4:10For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
American King James Version×). This question, framed in the context of Zerrubabel’s mission to rebuild the temple, has application that goes way beyond the immediate context to identify a central methodology in the biblical message.
Small things: Who does them? Who despises them? More importantly, does it even matter?
Started With Just One Man
Perhaps it is appropriate to start at the beginning. When God created the heavens and the earth, the trees and the seas, the fish and the fowl, the mammals and the reptiles, He did so for a great purpose—to provide a habitat that would ultimately house humans who were destined to become divine.
Then He began by creating a man—just one. Thus, God set in motion a great purpose with a very small beginning.
Who despised it? The story unfolds in Genesis 3: “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ ” (verses 4-5).
Can’t you just hear the contempt in the serpent’s voice? He despised the small thing that God had just created—mortal man, far from divine. Predictably, Eve made the wrong choice, beginning a cycle of misery that continues to this day. Satan influenced her to despise what she had and to covet the grand—becoming “like God” by taking the forbidden fruit.
The Savior Despised
When God sent the Savior to undo the damage, He used the same methodology. It began small: a baby in a manger; a child in the temple; a carpenter by trade; a Jew in a Roman protectorate. Not the type of personality, nor the methodology, we might expect to save the world, but He came to do just that.
However, the Savior was also despised. Do we need to ask by whom? When Jesus was hungry, the tempter taunted Him: “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread”—ever the contempt, always despising the one destined to replace him (Matthew 4:3 Matthew 4:3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
American King James Version×).
But Jesus prevailed. What began as a small thing on the dusty roads of a small Roman outpost ultimately will save the whole world.
Small Acts of Service
What does God expect of His servants today? The model has not changed and the methodology still works: If we want to be great, we must first be a servant and slave (Mark 10:42-45 Mark 10:42-45 42 But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority on them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whoever of you will be the most chief, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
American King James Version×). It’s a menial message and many are too small to take it to heart. A servant first? That is the correct model. The question is: Do we embrace it, or do we despise it? The answer is a pretty good indicator of the path we are on.
Christ’s life consisted of innumerable small acts that consummated in a single great act, no less despised: He held the children. He cooked fish. He washed the feet of His students. He comforted the sick as He modeled the method—no act was too small.
The apostles embraced the model and took it to the world. Peter advocated hospitality without grumbling. Paul besought the Romans to become living sacrifices, day by day. James challenged the faithful to help the widows in their trouble. In the final analysis, it is all about small things.
When Jesus describes the day of accounting, the theme of small things plays a central role:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matthew 25:34-36 Matthew 25:34-36 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
American King James Version×).
Conspicuously missing is an enumeration of the great and the grand. In the final analysis it all comes down to the small things.
What is equally astounding is the unassuming response by those who had just inherited the divine:
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’” (verses 37-39).
Astonishing! So engrained was the methodology that they never realized they were doing great deeds. It was not a big deal. It was just a small thing. It was the way they lived. In the end it became the defining difference.
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ ” (Matthew 25:40 Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
American King James Version×).
Great people do small things and make a big difference. Small people covet great things and in the end it makes no difference.
God asked a pertinent question: “Who has despised the day of small things?” I believe the answer is clear: The serpent, the adversary, the accuser, the mocker, the deceiver, the archenemy of all—Satan the devil. He thought he was grand. He considered himself great. He despised small things because he sought more important things to do.
But with God it is all about small things! Which path are you on? UN