Proving Faithful in Small Matters
“Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, hold authority over ten cities.”—Luke 19:17.
1. What do we face in daily life, and how do people respond?
EVERY day of our life we face small matters. They may be parts of a problem, an ache or pain, details of a job to do, a measure of the responsibilities we have, perhaps some of the happy occasions we enjoy, or maybe it is a little extra matter we have taken on, to help someone else. We take care of many of these small things, but many also go undone. Some people seem to have the capacity of taking care of a lot of responsibility, while others are easily disturbed over limited cares. Some persons take each day as it comes and look after the most pressing matter at hand, yet looking ahead to the handling of many other responsibilities and doing so calmly, while others are frustrated if they have more than the immediate job to do. They cause themselves much worry and concern over details yet in the future. They cross bridges before they are built, and many that never need building. There must be balance in our thinking. “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice.”—Prov. 12:25.
2. (a) What does being a member of God’s organization add to us? (b) What difference does this make to an individual?
2 In being a member of God’s organization we take on many more small matters besides those already faced each day. These include Bible study, attending meetings for more spiritual food, sharing in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, setting the right example in family life, and clean living habits. Then, being faithful in these privileges, we may be appointed as an overseer in the congregation to assist in shepherding the flock of God. All of this will bring into our life multitudes of details every day. These are the ones we cannot very well let go undone. Serving God in an organization means getting things done. Caring for them means spiritual health for ourselves as well as others. (1 Tim. 4:16) Spiritual matters should take first place. (Matt. 6:26) When weary of facing the problems of each day, we have help from those mentioned in Isaiah 50:4: “The Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones, that I may know how to answer the tired one with a word.” Luke 19:17 says, “Well done, good slave!” It applies to the manner in which the faithful anointed followers of Christ Jesus handle Kingdom interests. (Matt. 25:21) This good manner results in their being appointed as the “faithful and discreet slave” over all the Kingdom interests on earth. The principle holds true of all servants; faithfulness is a requirement.
3. Explain how faithfulness reveals the maturity of a person.
3 In fact, the real person often shows itself in one’s handling of small matters. In the big things there usually is someone there to admire us, to say “Well done!” and to recognize our abilities. Even a lazy person will often work to receive the applause of men. (Prov. 13:4) He will prepare talks to deliver before the congregation and will do well; but when it comes to helping some elderly person in the congregation with transportation to the meetings or conducting a Bible study with an interested person regularly every week, this may reveal indifference to small matters in God’s organization. He may not be faithful. So loyalty to God is easily discerned by the way a person cares for the small matters in an appreciative way. The willing person gains so much. “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” (Prov. 11:25) These kinds of faithful ones Jehovah really blesses and uses in his organization to share in the shepherding work. These are the kind that will care for the “sheep” and feed them with understanding. These are not small matters because of less importance necessarily. So often the small details will hold up the entire structure. For example, a stone arched bridge would not carry a load but would collapse if it were not for the keystone. Yet the keystone is small in comparison to the weight and size of the bridge. However, great care is given to its shape and placement to ensure a safe bridge.
4. Give illustrations of small matters affecting the attitude of others. How did it affect those involved?
4 Consider some examples of the attitude of Jehovah and his people toward small matters. In the construction of the Tabernacle there were so many things to do. The people responded, “bringing much more than what the service needs for the work that Jehovah has commanded to be done”; the result: “Look! they had done it just as Jehovah had commanded. That was the way they had done. Consequently Moses blessed them.” (Ex. 36:5; 39:43) On the other hand, what did Jehovah think of Jonah’s idea of going to Tarshish instead of his assignment city, Nineveh? (Jonah 1:4, 10, 12) Then there was Judas Iscariot, who for thirty silver pieces decided his entire future. (Matt. 27:3-6) There was no selfishness in Paul. Though he must have had many things to care for, he took time to write a special letter to Philemon in behalf of Onesimus. Then there was Joseph, so thorough in his life as a slave that he was soon in charge of his master’s household. Even in prison he displayed the same qualities, and soon was taking care of many details in the prison’s operation. He prospered in Pharaoh’s kingdom too. Jehovah blessed him and, as stated at Genesis 39:23, “what he was doing Jehovah was making it turn out successful” in his hand, and “Jehovah was with Joseph.”
5. (a) Why is there a need for all dedicated brothers to take on responsibility? (b) How is the ability obtained?
5 The New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses is a growing working organization; it has to be such, to get done the tremendous work that is assigned to it, namely, “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.” (Matt. 24:14) As new congregations are formed overseers will be needed, and a number of assistant servants, to see to the details involved in shepherding part of the flock of God. Those used in such responsible positions are those who do well in the small matters, looking after them with the same diligence required in the bigger things. If, for example, a family head, the father, takes care of the little ones in his house, getting them to meetings and teaching them patiently to share in the service of God, this same man will take good care of a congregation. The Bible lays this down as a requirement, stating: “A man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness.” (1 Tim. 3:4) As new ones are taught the truth of the Bible, they are nurtured on to maturity; they learn to handle responsibilities. So in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses there are always brothers being trained to take the lead in shepherding the sheep.”
6. What attitude prevails in the old world today, and why avoid being influenced by such thinking?
6 Of course, being surrounded by a world of people shying away from responsibility and who look upon it as something to avoid, we can easily understand why we have to cultivate a new attitude when we dedicate ourselves to serve Jehovah God. In Jehovah’s organization one does not slow down because Armageddon is not here today or because someone is not commending us every day. We should want to become involved in the privileges of service that come along with responsibility. Cultivating a self-sacrificing spirit will bring the benefits of our maturity to many of our brothers and keep attention away from sensitive self. Some may think, though, that they are better followers than leaders. Others say their health would not stand up under the heavy load of work. Then there are those who see connected with being an overseer the need at times to be firm and to counsel the brothers, and they hold back for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Or maybe some feel they are not capable, do not have enough knowledge to answer all the questions and handle all the problems sure to arise. But in all these attitudes we are being frightened by the whole big thing. This big responsibility means taking care of small matters day after day, and, as time goes on, you will be capable of handling more of them. True, you could be limited but not necessarily canceled out because of some hindrance. Remember, too, that the same qualities needed by overseers are needed by all the “sheep” in the congregation.
7. Who appoints overseers? How?
7 Stop and ponder now. Are people born to be overseers in God’s congregation today? No. God’s Word says: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.” (1 Tim. 3:1) “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) Jehovah God and his Son Christ Jesus through the “faithful and discreet slave” have a say in the matter as to who are overseers shepherding the flock of God. So those living up to God’s requirements written in his Word are recognized and used in shepherding the “sheep.”
8. What upbuilding view of responsibility can be enjoyed?
8 Rather than having a shortsighted meager view, seeing burdens, problems, longer hours, heartaches, searching decisions to make, the need of putting oneself out to help others, the never-ending constant grind, look up and see the increase of people who were formerly without God-appointed shepherds now in the shadow of protective dedicated servants of God. Note the New World society’s accomplishments. Watch new ones grow to maturity, one of the most fascinating growths indeed. Experience the joy of service. Then count, if you can, the pleasures and privileges of working for and with your brothers in Jehovah’s service.
9. (a) How could you prove dependable in small details in the organization’s work? (b) Why exert oneself so vigorously?
9 Another matter to be considered now, when there are many persons “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power,” is that of following through and being dependable. (2 Tim. 3:5) An assignment in God’s organization is never a trifle to be ignored. Any detail worth delegating to a servant of God is deserving of his best attention for the fraction of time it takes to handle it. Jesus said: “Everyone that comes to me and hears my words and does them . . . is like a man building a house, who dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock-mass. . . . On the other hand, he who hears and does not do, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without a foundation.” (Luke 6:47-49) It takes more than hearing, and it takes more than talking about it; it takes doing to get things done in a congregation serving God and feeding the “sheep.” Dependable ones, then, have much to look forward to, as promised at James 1:25: “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.” With a strong foundation and Jehovah’s blessing, a willing appreciative person can get a lot accomplished. He can help a lot of people to grow to maturity and he will be more useful to God’s organization the longer he serves. Why lose what you have because of letting your knowledge stand idle? Proverbs 11:24 describes it this way: “There exists the one that is scattering and yet is being increased; also the one that is keeping back from what is right, but it results only in want.”
10. (a) What benefits are there for dependable persons? (b) Is there a need to be faithful in small things?
10 Reflect, too, on the future blessings of dependable ones, as you read Luke 8:18: “Therefore, pay attention to how you listen; for whoever has, more will be given him, but whoever does not have, even what he imagines he has will be taken away from him.” Suppose a dedicated servant of God does not want to take care of some little things in the congregation, but feels too tied down and wants to enjoy freedom from any responsibilities. Now, what effect will this have on his children whom he says he wants to train up to serve God? A person is not born to be a good father or overseer, but, through knowledge, training, experience and applying himself, with Jehovah’s help he can do well in either position. If he does well in one, he will most likely do well in the other. Luke 16:10 records this statement by Jesus: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” Clarke’s Commentary, Volume V, page 462, makes this interesting observation: “He who has the genuine principles of fidelity in him will make a point of conscience of carefully attending to even the smallest thing; and it is by habituating himself to act uprightly in little things that he acquires the gracious habit of acting with propriety, fidelity, honour, and conscience, in matters of the greatest concern. On the contrary, he who does not act uprightly in small matters will seldom feel himself bound to pay much attention to the dictates of honour and conscience, in cases of high importance. Can we reasonably expect that a man who is continually falling by little things has power to resist temptations to great evils?”
11, 12. (a) Where do Jehovah’s witnesses take care of little matters that really are important? (b) How are “sheep” fed and introduced to the organization?
11 Hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses prove themselves faithful in small matters when they share in their house-to-house preaching activity. In fact, 1,040,836 publishers of God’s kingdom reported they had shared in this work. (See 1964 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 38.) In this ministerial work they find people who want to know more about God and his purposes. They want some help in studying the Bible. Well, Jehovah’s witnesses are happy to find such persons and oftentimes feel like the prospector finding the gold strike, for these meek ones are described as sheep in the Bible. Note the value placed upon these by Jehovah, as explained at Matthew 18:14: “Likewise it is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.” Will Jehovah’s witnesses forget to make a note of the “sheep’s” address or write down the questions to be answered at the next call? Will they keep their promise and call back? And soon, within a few days? Jesus impressed upon Peter the need to feed the “sheep” by telling him three times: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17) Jehovah’s witnesses have been instructed on ‘feeding the sheep.’ So they will be back. This is doing God’s work, and you thereby prove yourself faithful in small matters.
12 From this point on the new-found “sheep” take in little things: details of doctrines, pieces of Bible prophecy, minute views of the organization, points of Bible principles, a bit of the clean living standards of the theocratic society. Should we view these as crumbs and not important enough to warrant a regular feeding program? No, but we will faithfully serve these meek persons, patiently teaching them how to serve Jehovah. These small matters add up to something very big—life, and everlasting life at that.—John 17:3.
13, 14. (a) Can our speech be as revealing as our dependability? (b) Should we ignore downgrading trends in conversations? (c) How will the tide be turned to upbuilding discussions?
13 Examine our conversation. Parts of speech, yes, words and phrases, true, but what meaning is conveyed? What attitude is revealed? Our speech will tell on us, make us known. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) Our language, then, should come under supervision; we control it. There are certainly occasions for light conversation, for humor, and for relating experiences and events and for Scriptural discussions. But for a servant of God, in all these occasions one does not use speech to complain, to murmur, to find fault, to spread gossip or to use profanity or to brag. It is not necessary to gag oneself and smother conversation; rather, do as urged at Psalm 34:13: “Safeguard your tongue against what is bad, and your lips against speaking deception.”
14 It is when groups of people get to talking about someone that often immature ones will start the conversation going in the wrong direction by bringing up some shortcoming of that individual. Others will add to it and then we have a problem. Who in the group will have the courage to direct the conversation back to an upbuilding plane? Who will be loyal to Jehovah’s organization in this small matter and protect one of its members? Sometimes it takes only a word, a change of subjects, but it takes someone to do it. If a small rudder can steer a large ship and keep it sailing in safe waters, a small tongue can direct conversation. (Jas. 3:4) It is a big thing really, because if one finds fault with a person serving God he will soon be complaining about the position God has set up to get something done.—Jas. 5:9.
15. (a) If we listen, what can the talking of others do for us? (b) Is listening recommended?
15 Talking can be so refreshing and interesting. It reveals the interesting things that have happened to other people. It makes known knowledge of some subject in which they may be very qualified. It reveals appreciation for the truth. It tells us how wonderful a provider Jehovah is in taking care of all these persons as they relate their experiences. So we will profit if we are good listeners. But some people never want to do that; they would rather pour forth until even immature ones wish they would keep quiet. Listening is very important to a minister of God, and Proverbs 1:5 makes this clear: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction.” If you want to be heard when you speak, then listen to others when they talk.
16. How does the clock illustrate a practical way to view caring for many small matters?
16 Proving faithful in small matters can be very well illustrated by the clock. Whether small or large, very expensive with gold plating or just a cheap simple timepiece, they all do one thing, a very small thing. They measure off time in tiny fractions, seconds. It does the tremendous job of accurately keeping time and reporting it day or night, the year around, in small pieces at a time. No worries about next week or month, just the immediate second. When it has recorded and reported the second, it moves to the next one. We may not be as mechanical as a clock, but many times every day we have the responsibility and privilege of being faithful to Jehovah and his organization in small matters. If we take care of each one as it comes and each day do better, using the principles of God’s Word as working tools, these matters will soon be easily handled and we can go on to bigger ones and to more blessings from Jehovah God.
17. (a) How are families of Jehovah’s witnesses, particularly in small communities, called upon to take care of these small matters? (b) How can it affect the Kingdom work?
17 Another example is that of the only family of Jehovah’s witnesses in a community. They preach to the inhabitants of the locality. They work for or with many of these people. Their children go to the public school with the other children. The entire community watches them come and go in their Christian activity, how they live together as a family, how the children are trained, and their stand and attitude on issues in the neighborhood. They listen to their talk. Every move and detail of their life seems to come under a microscope for examination and provides material for many discussions around the town. And this is not for just a few days, but for years. Many people, after watching Jehovah’s witnesses for years, have come to the conclusion that the Bible is true and God’s principles therein are practical and workable for our day, and as a result they become Jehovah’s witnesses. One must admire the continual faithfulness in these small matters day after day by these families serving Jehovah in many parts of the earth. It is like the family of Noah who constructed the boatlike vessel under God’s direction and were watched by the entire locality far and wide.—Genesis chapters 6, 7.
18. What assurance and help do we get on this matter from the Bible?
18 There is no cause for panic, because we are not trying to please man; rather, we please God, as emphasized at Galatians 1:10: “Is it, in fact, men I am now trying to persuade or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave.” And again, at 1 Thessalonians 2:4: “Just as we have been proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak, as pleasing, not men, but God, who makes proof of our hearts.” There is no cause for alarm, for God through his Word, the Bible, has supplied the principles to use in everyday handling of these small matters. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
19. (a) How would you go about increasing happiness? (b) Are small matters unimportant? Why do you so answer?
19 With this view of our service to God, we have within our reach the opportunity of increasing our happiness. If you attended one congregation meeting a week last year and you arrange your life to attend two meetings a week this year, you will double your happiness. If you were privileged to share six hours a month in the service and now can devote seven and a half hours, you will be adding 25 percent to your happiness. Now if you reach out for responsibility and are appointed a servant in the congregation, you will be multiplying your happiness many times over. Think of how many times a day you have the privilege of making decisions in favor of Jehovah’s will. Small things, yes, some so small they go unnoticed or are easily stepped over, yet they are there. Cultivate the habit of making these decisions in accordance with God’s Word; you cannot possibly calculate the increase in happiness available to you. And then, cap it off with this promise: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—Prov. 10:22.