Where do I fit into the work of the church? I might look at what others are contributing and think, “I can’t do that,” “I don’t have the resources of that person,” and I might talk myself out doing what I can after comparing myself to others. We might be unable to see where there is room for the individual contributions each of us can make.
In this lesson, we’re going to look at four individuals who might have been considered insignificant but had great impacts for God’s cause.
Small Examples of Significance
Luke 19 introduces us to Zacchaeus. He is a small man in stature and in the eyes of those around him. He is a tax collector – a profession despised in all times and all cultures. Still, this man desires to see Jesus, and Jesus agrees to come to his house, causing dissension among others around Him. Zacchaeus simply welcomed Jesus into his home – showing hospitality. The end result of these actions are repentance and salvation.
Mark 12:38 leads up to the introduction of a poor widow who has no recorded name in the Scriptures. We know nothing of her outside this one simple act of self-sacrifice. While the wealthy make great shows of their vast contribution, this widow makes the greatest sacrifice – giving out of her need. Her status and monetary contribution are small, but her spiritual sacrifice is great.
I Kings 19 records Elijah fleeing to Sinai after Jezebel places a bounty on his life. After forty days and nights on Sinai, feeling himself a little man, accomplishing nothing, God appears to Elijah. A strong wind rips rocks off the mountain. An earthquake shakes the land. A great fire appears, but God is in none of these. Instead, God appears as a whisper, greatness wrapped in smallness.
Finally, II Kings 5 introduces us to a Syrian commander named Naaman. He is described as a great man who is unfortunately beset with leprosy, and he has a humble maiden who serves his wife. She’s a nobody, but her advice leads to Naaman’s cure – a cure that requires him to humbly obey Elisha’s word. These small factors lead Naaman to proclaim his knowledge of God.
Our Own Greatness in Smallness
What does God expect of us? Does he expect us to move mountains with every act, or is He looking for the small contributions we can make? Matthew 25:31 begins depicting a scene of the judgment, and Christ lists small acts of service as what His followers have done for His cause. They have shown generosity, kindness, and mercy to those around them in the small things they could do.
We should not begrudge those who can accomplish more, but we should recognize that God smiles upon those small things we can do as well. Andrew, in John 1, simply goes and gets his brother Peter to see Jesus – a small act with great consequences. Paul frequently mentions those who encourage him in his letters. Barnabas is recognized for the encouragement he is to others.
There are a lot of little things we can do, and these can add up to something bigger. Elisha, the poor widow, Naaman’s servant, and Zacchaeus all serve as illustrations of how small actions can have big consequences in our work for the Lord.
lesson by Tim Smelser