Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Mind the Little Things

I really love living here in the country. I spend my days with my family and participate in my sons' educations and rearing. Over the years there have been big moments that I was there for. Our oldest (11) completed Cub Scouts and earned his Arrow of Light. Our youngest (8), using an electronics kit he got for Christmas, built an A.M. transmitter that actually worked. And while I am glad to have been there for these and other such moments, I was reminded the other day that it is the little things, the little moments, which matter most.

This past weekend we noticed some mosquito larvae swimming in a pool of water. Of course we immediately got rid of the water since we're fans of neither mosquitoes nor the diseases they spread. But first I collected a sample of the water and put it under the microscope in my lab. By using transmitted light we were able to watch, not only a larva swimming, but its digestive system at work as well. We could actually see the digestive tract running the length of its body and, well, we observed it excrete small black masses from the tip.

Moving on quickly, I found myself reminded that its just this sort of "little moment" that matters most. Yes, the big moments are important too. But I think the small moments are by far more so. The big moments are like punctuation in a sentence. Ah! There's a period. The sentence is over. Ah! Graduation. School's over. But the period isn't the sentence, and the graduation isn't the education.

You see, the small moments add up, just like the letters and words in a sentence, and it is this cumulative effect that gives weight and meaning to our lives. Indeed, it is this cumulative effect that is our lives.

Studying scripture is very much the same. There are the big important things like Jesus dying for our sins. But we are often far too quick to dismiss little things. We are too quick to subject God’s Word to the test of our own understanding, our own reasoning, if it will keep the peace with those around us. And we are even quicker to disregard God’s Word when it contradicts our own beliefs (or dare I say desires).

The Pharisees of Jesus' day didn't set out to become legalistic hypocrites. When their order was formed they were genuinely interested in doing God's will and God's will only. It was only after they began looking to the teachings of men, the Talmudic writings, that they began to become the Pharisees we know from the New Testament.

And don't think that this is strictly a Jewish phenomenon. The Anglican Church didn’t meet one day and suddenly decide to rebelliously ignore God’s Word, but they did decide to ordain actively practicing homosexuals into their clergy. And they got to that point the same way the Pharisees did. They got there, not by a single great leap but by the accumulation of the smallest of tiny steps.

Now before anyone thinks this is a call to task the Anglican Church, or any Christian denomination, let’s think about this a moment. Today Christianity is replete with denominations that preach the teachings of men as doctrine. I know of no Christian denomination that doesn't have at least some error in its doctrine (including the Southern Baptist of which I am a member), and in every case it is because they lend their own teachings supremacy over the Word. Instead of citing a litany of such cases I'm going to challenge you to prayerfully test your own beliefs against scripture.

In I Peter 3: 15 we are told to be ready to give, to any man that asks, a reason for the hope that is in us. So I ask, why are you hopeful? What do you believe, and why? Are your beliefs found in scripture, or in a denominational handbook? If it is the latter, then you need to test your beliefs against scripture carefully and prayerfully. On a personal level, how many times have you decided to ignore an issue because it was trivial, choosing instead to focus on the important things? How many times have you decided to exempt scripture, in trivial matters of course, because it was the only reasonable thing to do? How many times have you relied on your own understanding, only because you didn’t like the answer you were finding in the Bible?

When Jesus was tempted, by Satan in the wilderness, every answer he gave was directly from scripture, from His Bible. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man was told that his brothers had the Bible and if they wouldn’t believe that then too bad for them. The Bible is sufficient and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Don't compromise scripture to accommodate man's judgment. Do not compromise scripture, or rationalize it, to accommodate the secular world. In the final analysis, God is right and men aren't. But it is just as (or more so) important, and far more difficult, that you don't compromise scripture to accommodate your own beliefs. If something you believe, if something you were taught doesn't fit within scripture, change what you believe. The Bible was sufficient for the rich man's brothers. The Bible was sufficient for Jesus in the wilderness. The Bible is sufficient for you.

I Peter 3: 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: