“He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.'” Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV)
Isn’t it easy to overlook small opportunities to help others because we don’t think it would make a real difference?
Little acts of kindness, chances to help another person, will pass us right by if we’re not carefully paying attention.
These things might seem meaningless, but when we get to heaven, I think we will be surprised by what mattered the most. What actually changed the world. What fulfilled the purposes for which we were created. The small places we showed up and served in obedience will prompt Jesus to say, “Well done. Remember when you took the time to share encouraging words with someone who needed them? That’s the day you helped change the world.”
That’s what I see in our key verses today, Matthew 13:31-32:
“He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’”
I keep reminding myself right now of this upside-down nature of God.
God has a pattern of taking what makes us feel less-than and using it for great things. And then the opposite is true as well. It’s those things that make us feel like we’re better than others that actually produce nothing significant at all. It seems, with Him, small is big, and big is small. The cheers of the crowds don’t mean much. The simple conversation where we helped someone means everything. Hundreds or thousands of people following us on social media isn’t the big influence we think it is. Being kind and gracious to that gal who works at the grocery store does more than we know. A donation given with a pure and generous heart is a massive gift for the Kingdom. A million dollars given with a hidden agenda and a desire for recognition is a tiny gift for the Kingdom.
God has the most beautiful, powerful ability to take the little we have, offered to Him in obedience, and magnify it for His glory in a big way.
I also know when you feel unseen, unheard and unnoticed, it can feel incredibly hard to muster up encouraging words for others. However, no matter what we may be facing, we have an opportunity not to overlook the small, mustard-seed opportunities where we can invest in others — in heaven — today.
Here’s what I want you to try with me:
- If you feel unseen, help one person feel seen by reminding them how uniquely beautiful and gifted they are today.
- If you feel unheard, help one person feel heard by holding space to listen when they're speaking to you, and prayerfully ask God how you can encourage them.
- If you feel unnoticed, help one person feel noticed by honoring the amazing little things they do every single day to make the world a better place.
And why do all of this? Because I’ve found as we purposefully ease the ache in others, we will see it is beautifully eased in us. The unseen ache. The unheard ache. The unnoticed ache. We want to live in a better world, right? So let’s make a decision today to contribute to making it better. Let’s vow to bring heaven to earth with the loving words we say and the moments we cultivate that bring laughter.
It doesn’t have to be big to be significant. We can show up, listen and lean in. We can pray. We don’t have to push or prove or earn anything. We can plan something joyful. We can plan for some moments that matter. We can plan to do something for another person that will simply be kind and honor God.
The next big step God wants us to take may appear small by the world’s standards:
Loving our next-door neighbor who lives alone …
Spending extra time with our child when we’re exhausted …
Going the extra mile for someone who can’t repay us …
Choosing to stay obediently in a commitment that isn’t going how we thought it would …
Giving our all in something we want to quit …
And sometimes God is inviting us to be a part of great things He is doing all around us, but we may miss the invitation because of its appearance of smallness or insignificance. We may never know what that next step is if we don’t “listen for GOD’s voice in everything [we] do, everywhere [we] go,” as Proverbs 3:6 (MSG) instructs us. Each day we can look for His invitation to leave our plans behind to join Him in His wondrous work through small steps of obedience.
Let’s start with the people right in front of us today. And watch how God turns something small into something big and beautiful in His timing.
I believe we have the opportunity to do something eternally significant every single day — let’s not allow today to pass us by.
God, thank You for the ways You love me. I see Your faithfulness in big and small ways every single day. I pray You would show me small ways I can invest big-time into eternity by helping others You put in my path. Show me someone to encourage, someone to serve, someone who needs to be reminded that You are for them. I know I can’t help everyone, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t help someone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (NIV)
Take a moment and ask the Lord to put one person on your heart. Then reach out to them. Also, spend a few moments praying for this friend, asking for God’s wisdom and direction to guide their life. We'd love to hear your prayers and thoughts on today's devotion in the comments!
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