Jesus said that being faithful in a small thing tells us who will be faithful in great or many things (Luk. 16:10). When we hear this verse, just what do we think of? I believe we often lack a perception of just how wide ranging and varied the application of Scripture is.
For example, when Paul says you shall not muzzle the ox that treads the corn (1 Cor. 9:9) he was quoting from Deuteronomy 25:4. If anyone thought that those words had only to do with the treatment of oxen Paul goes on to show that God’s concern was not merely with oxen but with laborers receiving due compensation. Scripture is a treasure chest of such words that can be applied to various situations. Of course one must take care when doing this. There are far too many examples of people who are too free in this regard, interpreting things to suit their lusts and lazy thinking.
But there are many implications to what happens when we aren’t faithful with a little, and I have one example in mind. There is a commercial I see frequently that talks about why your body crashes later after you consume popular “energy” drinks. Obviously people use them to get that boost to make it through the day. But where is the lack of faithfulness here that results in a larger lack of faithfulness later?
First, the consumer wasn’t faithful to take the time to understand the word “energy” and how it’s being used. The definition of energy can get fairly complicated when you check out scientific definitions. But suffice it to say (for our purpose here) that energy is vigor or the ability to be active over a period of time. Energy can’t be created or destroyed but simply transferred. For example, the sun does not create energy out of nothing but energy is produced out of the fusion of hydrogen and helium nuclei in the sun’s core. So out of that small fusion on the atomic level we feel warmth (transferred energy) and plants grow on a large scale. The sun is faithful in a little. A lot comes out of it.
When we get the proper rest and take care of our bodies, energy is transferred to us as part of that faithful process. When we fail to take care of ourselves energy levels lower and we find ourselves in need of a quick fix to meet present demands. So we turn to stimulants. Probably the most popular stimulant is coffee (I love good coffee) because it has caffeine. If you check out energy drinks you’ll find that the “energy” producing ingredients are taurine and/or caffeine. “Despite its presence in energy drinks taurine has not even been shown to be energy giving.” That’s from Wikipedia, and other sources verify that. Caffeine stimulates, it does not produce energy. But it gives us a boost and some confuse that with energy. Nothing wrong with getting a boost as long as we know the difference between that and true energy. When we don’t know the difference we keep trying to produce energy by stimulating ourselves. Since it can’t be done we end up paying a price.
Unfortunately many people who advertise products of various kinds count on you and I not knowing the difference between much of anything. If they can match their false but plausible definition to a feeling or need we have then it’s usually enough to sell products for at least a while. A good example of a plausible definition (one that seems to make sense on the surface) that I’ve heard in church many, many times is that of the difference between head and heart faith. It fits really well with how we feel so we don’t question it. But the fact is that Scripture never divides the heart from the head or anything else. It considers the heart to be the center of the person which includes the intellect. If we have a superficial faith it’s because we have a superficial heart, not because we’re only holding certain beliefs in our heads and others in our heart. Out of the heart are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).
There is much evil that has grown out of that small inaccurate definition that I don’t have time to go into here. But just give a little thought to some things you think have grown out of the fact that man thinks the human psyche is divided between head and heart. It determines how he will treat a human being in medicine, education, psychology, social work and much else.
So while we confuse energy with being stimulated we also confuse liberty with license, law with legalism, love with feelings, racism (and a whole truck load of other “isms”) with personal preferences and on it goes. Most often all this occurs on a subtle level, the level of thought, the unnoticed. But eventually some kind of plant, poisonous or profitable, grows out of these seeds. As we think in our hearts, so are we (Prov. 23:7).
Jesus told us that genuine faith had nothing to do with size. It could be the size of a mustard seed and still move mountains. And even our bodies are considered seeds which fall into the ground and die (Jn. 12:24) but will be raised incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:52).
Because people consider small inconsequential, Christians included, they think it doesn’t matter much what they call something. God does amazing things by calling things that are not as though they were. But we walk down artificial paths of false comfort by calling things that are what they are not.
That was the condition of the people in the land when God began the whole process of leading the children of Israel out of slavery and into their lands. It’s the condition of the world today. If it’s the condition of Christians as well then it’s a good thing that, ultimately, it is God who reserves for Himself those who will not bow the knee to gods of false definition (Rom. 11:4). He can’t afford to leave the most important decisions to us. A man once approached me and said, “Have you made that decision for Christ?” I said, “I’m just happy He made a decision for me.”
He made that decision for me before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Without the seed of His decision, the plant of my decision could never have appeared, much less grown. We need to recover a governing perception that everything begins and ends with God (Alpha and Omega). Yes, we’re in there making decisions and defining things. And how our wills work with His without us being His mere puppets is a mystery.
When I was a boy my father didn’t try to tell me about how to act in every situation I would face. There was no way he could know them all. And it never did me any good, when I did wrong, to try and get off on the technicality of “but you never said I couldn’t do that.” I knew enough about the basics of right and wrong and was familiar enough with his general will that I had a sense of what I should or shouldn’t do even if I chose to disregard that sense.
We need to regain that sense, if we ever truly had it, of being in the Vine. We’re part of the process, not the beginning or ending of it. If we can’t even see light without first being in His light (Ps. 36:9) then it means that whatever we see, and consequently do, is shaped by whose light we stand in.