WISE LITTLE THINGS
T. Pierce Brown
Many times when we consider the vastness of universe, or some great task the accomplishment of which boggles the mind, we may feel a sense of our own littleness, and cry out as David did in Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?”
It is good for us to realize how small and helpless we are, that we may depend on God and give glory to him. But sometimes we may concentrate on our limitations instead of the infinite power of God and bury our talent in the sand. Remember the excuse and the result. “I was afraid and went and hid thy talent in the earth” (Matthew 25:25). The response of his master was, “Thou wicked and slothful servant—. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26,30).
Proverbs 30:24-28 says, “There are four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the conies are but a feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; the lizard taketh hold with her hands, yet she is in kings’ palaces.”
Let us examine some lessons from that passage, that we may be at least a little wiser than we sometimes are. First, the ants prepare their food in the summer. This suggests that there is an appropriate time for every task, and if it is not done at that time, it may never be done at all. Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” This is especially fitting as we think of the present gigantic and thrilling task of getting the gospel message into every nation of the world. We have thought about it many times. Now we are making specific plans not merely to think and talk, but do.
We may be small and insignificant compared to many religious and irreligious groups, but the lessons from the ant are for us right now.
We could dwell at length on the industriousness and ingenuity with which they find and prepare their food. The courage, confidence and perseverance with which they operate is amazing. I have seen them face a body of water across which they apparently could not swim. So they would push a straw out in the water and climb on. I have seen them pull or push an object many times their size. If they are not able to push it forward, they pull it backward. If they are unable to get it over an obstacle, they go around.
They may follow a leader if they have one. If not, they cooperate as if they did have one, for they are moved with a common purpose. Some of them may have been lazy, cantankerous, proud, self-willed, selfish, uncooperative, but in all my hours of observing them I never found one.
Indeed they are exceeding wise. The wonderful thing about it is, they apparently exercised this wisdom, not by trying to acquire more brainpower, but simply by using what they had in the way God intended for it to be used. The man with the one talent did not have to get five before he could function adequately and gloriously. He just needed to use what he had for his master. Surely the lesson is plain. Every individual and congregation should recognize that now is the time to use every resource we have with ingenuity and confidence to accomplish the task of helping to get the gospel into every nation.
The conie, or rock badger, somewhat like a rabbit was weak and small. Yet he built his house in the rock. We must start like the wise man, building our house on the rock. Keep in mind that Jesus says that happens by “Hearing these sayings of mine and doing them.” We have heard these sayings all our lives, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” and “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” but many have not really made a sacrificial, faithful, cooperative effort to do this.
Also, it is my judgment that many are trying to find shelter in the blueprint instead of in the house on the Rock. It is possible to get very involved in studying and analyzing the blueprint of the house that we never actually get into the house. The key to it is simple. Instead of sounding as if we must choose the plan or the Planner, the church or Christ, we need to be keenly aware that if we choose Christ, it automatically follows that we are added to his church. If we really have any respect for the Planner, we must follow his plan!
The point I am making here is that Christianity is not merely a doctrine to be believed and taught, but a life to be lived. Jesus said about some on one occasion, “They say and do not.” Beware lest he say it about some others on another and more final occasion!
The locusts without any king, going together in bands can wipe out the opposition in any nation under heaven, no matter how scientific, technically advanced or actively engaged that opposition may be. One can crush a dozen of them under one foot at one step, yet they cannot be stopped once they go on a mission. The reason is simple. They all use their God-given ability in a cooperative fashion at the same time. They do it without a king. Think of what we can do with a King, if we but follow him together! One can burn a hole in a piece of steel if he can properly get the sun’s rays concentrated on that one place.
What a lesson for us! Without any national headquarters, central organization or denominational machinery, we can simply work together on a common cause with our own individual talents and opportunities, but concentrating our efforts on the same thing at the same time and overcome all opposition from the world. Thousands of us are already trying it in scattered local efforts. Let us now concentrate those efforts in the big task of getting the gospel to the whole world!
Whether the inspired writer was talking about the spider or lizard, the lesson is the same, but the spider is easier for me to talk about, for I have seen with amazement the perfection, beauty and utility of the glorious web the spider makes as he does what God made him for. I never heard a spider make any noise to call attention to himself or his work. But he works according to the pattern that God apparently ordained thousands of years ago. He adapts the pattern to the circumstances, but I have never seen one do an unsightly or slovenly task.
In every case, if we would recognize our own weakness, but with patient, persevering, cooperative effort use the means and opportunity God gives us to do what we can, where we are, with what we have, there is no task that God wants done that is too big or too hard to do. Remember that when Peter walked on the water, he did not do it simply by practicing his own skills, but by acting in faith on the command of Christ.