Great Things from Small Beginnings

“Another parable He put to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches'” (Matthew 13:31-32).
Ibon Halder and I, after many invitations, finally arranged to eat dinner with a government worker in Khulna, Bangladesh with whom we had been doing business. When we sat at the table, Ibon looked at my place setting and then asked our host if I could be given eating utensils. The normal practice in most of South Asia is to eat with one’s hands. I can do that, but prefer a good fork. This was provided, but then the host made a brief remark to Ibon, at which he laughed. I asked what was so funny, and Ibon responded, “He wants to know how you can eat with such a small fork and get so fat!”
We are often amazed at the accomplishments of others who begin with very little. In the middle of the last century, Sam Walton was the owner of only one small town “5 and 10 cent” store. Yet his vision and drive built what has become the largest retail chain in the world. Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and considered deranged, yet became a model of achievement and humanitarian good. Other examples are abundant.
In spite of this evidence, we remain suspicious and unconvinced. If someone succeeds, it is because of advantages (birth, station, inherited wealth, etc.) that the unsuccessful do not have. Or it is because he acted immorally and illegally. “No one can get that much money honestly” is a common prejudice. But it is often wrong. People do accomplish much, through effort, character, and the diligent application of their abilities. Even more is accomplished when these are joined by trust in God.
“Little is much when God is in it.” This is not a Bible verse, but it is definitely a Biblical principle. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…. If God is for us, who can be against us?… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:28,31,37).
One of the great doctrines of Christianity is that all have been given talents or gifts by Christ (Ephesians 4:7ff; Romans 12:3ff). Whoever we are, regardless of sex, age, education, or economic class, we have the ability to serve God and to benefit others. The Church’s full potential can only be reached when “every part does its share” (Ephesians 4:16). The Church, or Kingdom as Jesus often called it, began with his few disciples, but within decades had spread to “the remotest parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It grew through the efforts of “uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13). These “handicaps” did not hinder them, however, because they also had great faith in God, and their work received his blessing.
Each of us may feel weak and inadequate at times. That is when we need to remember the tiny mustard seed. It doesn’t look like much, but, oh, what potential is contained within it. The life of the mustard plant is a gift of God. It cannot grow without his help. So it is with us. Whatever talents, resources, or opportunities we possess are entrusted to us by him. It is when we recognize that and enlist his help that great things may result.

One thought on “Great Things from Small Beginnings

  1. The parable being true (MT 13:31-32) – what is the real reason we (His body) struggle to give even a little effort to share the gospel with others? Maybe we have a misconception about what it means to “bear fruit” (JN 15:15-17) for Jesus?

Share your thoughts: