Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It May Seem a Small Thing

After the doctor's office weighed me in at 183 pounds--only a few of which I could reasonably blame on heavy clothes with full pockets--I decided it was time to start watching what I ate. Which isn't easy when one spends a lot of time at business events that lay out the buffet without much attention to low-calorie choices.

Even harder, perhaps, is keeping hands out of the candy dishes one finds in every business office these days. It's so easy to rationalize that "one little piece of chocolate won't hurt." But even "one little piece" has calories which, once you get into the habit of dipping in, quickly add up to tens of pounds.

The same principle applies to the "weight" of our spiritual lives. How often do we rationalize that sinning (though we rarely use that exact word in that context) "just a little" won't hurt? We shirk our duty "just this once" or put it off for "later"; we take "one little peek" at an X-rated magazine; we know our attitudes are selfish but decide to indulge them for "just an hour or so." But every "little" sin of thought or action is a building block that leads us farther from the Christlike ideal. As the old proverb goes, "Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

Fortunately, the principle also works in reverse. Every time we decide to do the right thing--however small in itself--we take a positive step toward Christlikeness.

Learn to ask, "Will this serve God's purpose in me?" of everything you do.

It may seem a small thing to pick up a can
Or to push ahead in a queue,
But your heart grows a shard more soft or hard
With every deed that you do.

It may not seem much to speak one kind word
Nor to growl at a long delay,
But you forge a grain of a habit's chain
With every word that you say.

You may think you have only one day's mood,
But on days is a lifetime fed,
And you make for yourself your life's heaven or hell
With each thought you let in your head.

Out of hand-sized bricks a great house is built,
And small drops build a mighty wave:
So choose those things well that will build your soul--
Make each tiny act true and brave!

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