Little Can Be Big

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Little things mean a lot. Big doors swing on small hinges.

A man’s wife and daughter were traveling through Europe. The wife visited a jewelry store and found a very expensive piece of jewelry. She wanted it. She emailed her husband and told him the price and asked for his permission to buy it.

He emailed back, but left out one small comma. He intended to say “no, price too high.” When he left out the comma the message read “no price too high.” One little comma cost him a fortune. Little things make a big difference.

On a much bigger stage Robert Love writes about a mistake that appears on the Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington, D.C. The statement reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness.”

Many people read that and it didn’t seem to be exactly the right description of Martin Luther King Jr. It carried with it a touch of arrogance and pride that was not characteristic of him. Upon a closer check, the quote is actually wrong because of the word “if.”

Research showed that on February 4, 1968, Dr. King delivered a sermon called “The Drum Major Instinct.” It was actually a sermon that called for less of an arrogant attitude towards life and more of an humble spirit. Recognition and being out front were not the main objectives of life. That tends to promote a kind of seniority, which leads to racism.

The point of his sermon was that a person needs to harness those desires to be out front and use them to be an humble servant. He turned to thoughts of his funeral and said, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace.”

That understanding of the sermon is the total opposite of what is on the monument in Washington D.C. It all centered on the word “if.” Words can be changed, omitted, or added that give an opposite message than was intended. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

I understand that the government is now changing the quote so that it is indicative of what Dr. King meant and what he stood for.

Little things can be big things. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants and grows into a tree where birds can come and find shelter in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31, 32)

The wise man Solomon said, “The little foxes spoil the vineyards.” (Song of Solomon 2:15) Jesus said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25: 21 NLT) Jesus said, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10 NLT)

Taking care of little things positions us for taking care of the big things!

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