Sweating the Small Things

February 17, 2012

You have probably heard the saying that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. This seems to suggest that there are matters of little consequence over which we should not worry. There are big things over which we should exert a little sweat. Drop the matters of little consequence.

Decades of ministry have enabled me to witness some extraordinary things:

* Supposedly Christ-like brethren berating a church secretary in the church foyer for forgetting someone’s birthday in the bulletin.

* An older man who berated an elder for mispronouncing his wife’s name in a prayer. For years he would insist the elder had “done it on purpose.”

* A Christian who claimed he had greeted the preacher’s wife in town and she had not responded.

* A man who stormed out of assembly because someone had read his prayer rather than recited it “from the heart” (how he knew the man had read the prayer, or how he knew the man had not read it from his heart is as mysterious to me as the Bermuda Triangle).

I could go on. And on and on. Which raises the question:

Are we in kindergarten?

There are things over which we should have broken hearts. Lost souls all over the world should break our hearts. Brethren who have left the faith should break our hearts. The plight of widows and orphans should break our hearts. Teachers who have ceased to teach the truth should break our hearts.

Can I be kind and clear? Please grow up!

One writer put it this way: “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God. You need milk not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

Another put it this way: “Brothers I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

A friend of mine used to say you can know a great deal about a person by the things that bother him. It bothers me when good people are berated over things that could not possibly affect eternity. It bothers me that brethren of considerable years of church going have apparently soaked up little of the love and compassion of Christ. It bothers me that God’s servants (church secretaries, preachers, leaders in worship, preacher’s wives) quit serving God because their brethren have lost perspective.

There are times it is true when we need to thoughtfully, prayerfully, lovingly speak to an erring brother about his sin. Ensure, however, that we are seeking to save his eternal soul, and not just to express our petty and childish impudence. It’s time that someone stood up and declared that the Lord’s cause is too great for it to be stymied by petulance and childishness.

-Stan Mitchell

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