As I look around the world, I see many long-term problems: chronic poverty, heart-rending injustice, inadequate food and medical care, unequal access to education, governmental corruption, human greed, entrenched violence, and endless wars, to name just a few. Such problems seem to defy our human efforts to resolve, though there are places in which headway is being made (e.g., the eradication of certain diseases).
If you feel powerless in the face of such issues, one way forward is to “think small.” In other words, concentrate on what you can do and be God’s blessing within your sphere of influence.
I once asked my online friends to share their ideas about “Small things that make a big difference.” I loved the range of responses:
- A minus sign (from a 6th grade math teacher)
- A kidney stone
- Saying “thank you”
- A smile
- My son’s laughter
- A virus… or a vaccine
- Hugs from my kids
- A diamond
- A good (or bad) attitude
- Looking someone in the eye (especially in the service industry)
- A mustard seed-sized faith
In cooking, just a pinch of an ingredient such as yeast, garlic, or salt can have a huge impact. Consider the power that is found in a microchip, an M-80, or a house key. Disasters can be caused by a pinpoint gas leak, a match, or saying “Just one more drink.” Something as simple as thirty extra minutes of sleep, holding hands, or a favorite old song can improve your day.
James 3 also speaks of small things that make a big difference. James mentions the bits used to control horses, the rudders that steer ships, and the human tongue. In particular, he reflects upon the damage that we humans inflict through the words we speak to each other. He wonders how we can use the same tongue to bless God and curse one another. He warns that the untamed tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” How true it is that small things can make a big difference, for good or for ill. May we be mindful of the small things we do and say to one another.