“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
Luke 16:10 (NASB)
When I read the Bible, I often try to put myself in the scene in some way. To imagine myself in the skin of one of the characters or think about how I would react if I was the character. When I read the beginning of Genesis, I think about Adam and Eve and why the temptation worked so well. It’s easy to imagine because temptation is something we’ve all given in to. The instruction from God was very clear yet Satan presented a case for why ignoring that instruction was actually to their benefit. If they would just eat the fruit, their lives would be so much better. They would be so much wiser. They would be like God! Surely the benefits outweighed any consequences and God would understand . . . after all, it was just a piece of fruit.
I doubt that Adam and Eve anticipated the shame and regret that would descend upon them so quickly — they had never experienced either before. I’m not even sure they fully understood the severity of the consequences their actions produced. What was death? There is no indication they had witnessed death of any kind until God provided the garments of skin for them. After being driven from the garden to live a life of hard work and painful toil just to survive, I wonder how often they questioned the appropriateness of their punishment . . . after all, it was just a piece of fruit.
And from that time forward, mankind has followed in their footsteps. We hear simple instructions yet we convince ourselves that the benefits of not following them somehow make the instructions irrelevant. We see the short-term benefit while paying no attention to the eternal consequences of not being faithful in the little things. We go about life as we want to live it, ignoring and dismissing all instructions that might inconvenience us in any way. When called into account for our lack of faithfulness in the little things, we insist that it really shouldn’t matter . . . after all, it was just a piece of fruit.
As I was removing tape and staples (which should not have been there) from the auditorium wall at church, the verse at the top of this article came to mind. It also brought to mind an incident from the first summer I was responsible for the maintenance at camp. We were in our second season of using some very nice additions to the dining hall and health officer’s cabin at the camp and some very strict instruction and policy had been laid down to protect the huge amount of work and investment that had gone into them. To protect the new walls, we had a very strict no tape of any kind on any of the painted drywall. We made it through most of the summer until one week a volunteer came and insisted that they needed to tape decorations all over the back wall of the dining hall. When they were unable to convince me that the benefit to them was worth ignoring the instruction, they went over my head to my boss who gave them permission to do what they wanted . . . after all, it was just a piece of tape.
When the end of the week came and all of the tape was removed, the effects were quite obvious. When the tape came off, so did the paint! My boss noticed it and remembered the words of the camp board at the building dedication, “Take a good look at these additions. We expect them to look like this and be maintained in this condition.” So, I was given instruction that I must repair and repaint the entire wall before any of the board members came on site. Yet not once was there any acknowledgement that this was caused by a failure to follow simple instruction and policy . . . after all, it was just a piece of tape.
While this was a specific example that related to my frustration of once again removing tape and staples that should not have been present from a wall, this same mindset is far too common. We adopt a belief that the ends justify the means so it doesn’t really matter how we do things as long as it brings a perceived benefit to us. So we take things from work . . . after all, it was just a few things they didn’t really need. We speed . . . after all, it was just a few mph over the posted limit. We cheat on our spouse . . . after all, it was just some harmless fun. We _____________ (you fill in the blank) . . . after all, it was just ____________!
I pray that when you consider the instructions given by God in His Word, including the instruction to obey those in authority, you would be found faithful in the little things . . . after all, it’s just the right thing to do!