Faithful in Small Things


By Stephen Terry



“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  Matthew 18: 23-35


On the surface, this parable appears to be about debt and forgiveness of debt, but recently I came to understand a deeper application of this counsel.   My sister and brother-in-law recently moved to Spokane and I had scheduled a date to come see their new home.  A friend and I decided to stop for lunch on the way as we had plenty of time before we were to arrive.  In the parking lot of the restaurant, a young man came up to us and asked for a meal.  He was apparently high on something, and he looked like he had come up on the losing end of a fight with a bulldozer.  My heart went out to him in his need and I bought him a meal.  He ordered a meal “to go.”


When my friend and I sat down for our meal we noticed that he decided to stay and had taken a table on the other side of the restaurant.  I noticed that he was having trouble staying awake.  Soon the restaurant manager came and told him he needed to go somewhere else as the restaurant was not a place to sleep.  He promised the manager that he would stay awake.  The manager told him if he stayed awake he could stay until his meal was done but no longer and then went back to working in the kitchen.


I went over to the young man and asked his name. 


“J.C.” he answered. 


I asked if he was from Spokane?  He said he was from New Orleans.  


I asked him if he had a place to stay?  He had no idea where he would go after the restaurant and didn’t know anyone in Spokane.


I told him about the Union Gospel Mission.  He said he thought it sounded great.  I offered to take him there when he was done eating.  He said he would like to go to a safe place.


Returning to my table, I told my friend that we would be late to my sister’s house as we needed to take “J.C.” to the Mission.  Soon we bundled him into the car and had him at the Mission.  After some paperwork and a screening, he was admitted to the Mission.  The person in charge assured him and us that “J.C.” would be well taken care of.


It looked like we had a little time to spare so I stopped at Staples to pick up something.  No lines. In and out and we would be on our way.  After I had come out of the store I noticed my friend was not with me, so I went back in.  She met me at the door with a purchase she wanted to make.  I looked at the cash register and where there was no line before, now there was a long line.  I said, “If we make this purchase we will definitely be late arriving at my sister’s.”


My friend’s response was a rebuke straight from the Lord.  She asked why I was willing to be late to my sister’s to help a perfect stranger, but was not willing to be late to help someone I knew who needed something?  I had not been willing to give the same consideration to her that I had given to a perfect stranger.  God had given me great consideration in my life, and here I was, not extending the same consideration to someone in a very small thing.


Now I began to wonder how often we do this from day to day.  How often do we desire to do the great works of the church and yet neglect the simple requests of our families as somehow being of less importance?  Do we spend hours planning how we are going to reach the lost in the city around us and then completely miss the needs in our own houses and our own families?  What about our church family?  Do we make the same sacrifices for them that we willingly make for strangers?


Aesop in his fable “The Fox and the Lion” truly said that “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  Not only do we seem to find it harder to do the loving thing with those close to use than with strangers, we also find it easier to find fault with those we know well.  Do we forget how easy it would be for our Lord to find fault with us?  Yet He has not done so.  As the Apostle John wrote, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  John 3:17


Jesus gave His life on the cross to make this possible.  I was unwilling to give an extra five minutes to my friend.  If I am unwilling to take the extra time for my friend for a material need or even a spiritual need such as prayer or simply letting them know that I support them in their struggle, how have I done anymore for them than a perfect stranger would have done?  Am I better at loving my enemies than I am at loving my friends?  Should I be?


If I am not, why would anyone want to belong to my church?  Even my cat understands that it wants to be where it feels safe.  In my house, he enjoys being fed and watered, having his fur lovingly stroked and socialization together through playtime.  If I ignored him, except to pull his fur and fed him only at irregular intervals when it was convenient, he would be only too happy to move on to a safer place.  Providing him a safe place to live costs me little.  Making sure our families feel safe at home and loved also costs little.  Doing the same at church is also easily done.


A gentle touch, a kind word, a prayer of support costs us nothing, but they can make a world of difference in how appreciated and how safe someone feels.  No one should feel threatened by coming to church.  If they do, they will seek a safer place.  If they do not receive understanding from those they worship with, they will find it elsewhere.  And if there must eventually be a judgment, who will be in the worst position, the one who left to find safety, or the one who drove them away by making them feel unsafe?


Lets make our families safe places where we consider the needs of our loved ones as important as our own.  Let us make our churches safe places where we consider the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ as important as our own need for support.  As in the parable of the debtor, can we truly expect God to support us and care for us if we do not do the same for those around us?


Sometimes we see others struggling in the church, and we say “They must not be converted.”  But when we are saying this, are we not really saying “I am converted, so I can judge who is and who isn’t.”  But the very act of doing this reveals something of our own nature.  If we are close to Christ, why would we wound those He gave his life for by making them feel unsafe in the church?


Some feel the need to do battle against sin in the church.  However, the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest according to the Bible and even then the angles do the work of dealing with the tares, not the church members.  It is deeds of kindness, not deeds of judgment that benefit both the recipient and the giver.  Lets not lose kindness in the darkened halls of judgment.