“Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man planted in his field.’” Matthew 13:31
I’ve been struggling lately with significance. We live in a world that constantly shouts this message at us: “Bigger is better!” There is a pressure from our culture to become well-known, or have many customers, followers, sales, bank accounts, etc. The world’s system claims that success is found in numbers—the more, the better. I’ve found myself thinking, “I don’t have enough followers on my blog, or my social media accounts. I’m not making a big enough difference.” And, according to the world’s system, maybe I’m not. So, I find myself torn between two worlds: the one I live in physically, and the one I live in spiritually.
To lead a godly-life, according to the Scripture, more is not necessarily better. What the Bible shows us is that it’s best to focus on the task at hand, concerning oneself with private matters, and expressing the love of God within one’s circle of influence, no matter what size that circle is. It’s better to pour oneself into few people who produce good fruit, then to have many that wither. Remember, Jesus changed the world with only twelve followers!
The Kingdom of God is opposite of the world’s system. In God’s kingdom, sometimes smaller is best. God can take faith the size of a mustard seed, a tiny thing, and grow faith into something much bigger (when fully grown, a mustard tree can reach up to 20 feet tall). Jesus also compares His kingdom to a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46,) or a coin that was lost and now found (Luke 15:8). When Jesus chose His disciples, He only chose twelve. This was a symbolic number to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, but it’s a relatively small number. He didn’t change the world with millions, He changed it with Himself—One. He taught and trained a small group of disciples, who, one by one, took His message to the masses.
A seed, a pearl, a coin: One. We’re all tempted to fall into the mind-set that bigger is better, but that’s not God’s plan. He wants us to be faithful with whatever part of the plan He gives us. For most, it usually begins with our family or friends. Just plant the seed of faith in whomever God places within your circle of influence. Pray that His Living Water makes that seed grow. Do your part faithfully, looking only to God for His approval. Don’t look to the world for approval. The world will never be satisfied and will demand more from you. God just wants you to be obedient with the things He’s asked of you. He is enough. Be faithful with the little things. Christians should be content to live quiet lives, minding one’s business while working diligently. This is an example of letting one’s actions speak for itself, by living to honor God and not man.
So, I have been praying that God would help me to be thankful for relative obscurity. Running on the never-ending treadmill of the culture’s definition of success just makes me tired. Instead, shouldn’t I be content with living a life that matters to God first? Years ago, I left a promising career to stay at home and raise my kids. In the world’s eyes, I gave it up—I lost a great opportunity. Maybe. I tried to balance both at first, but I couldn’t do both well. One was going to give, and it wasn’t going to be my children! So, I raised them well. Today, I am happy to say my kids are doing great, but it was not luck. It was hard work, with relative obscurity, and no paycheck. When I pass from this life to the next, my hope is that my paycheck is in serving God by raising my children to His glory, doing my best with what the world views as “little things,” and hoping that all those small seeds will grow into good fruit in God’s kingdom.
What I am sensing is clearly encouraged in the Bible: my life’s ambition should aim towards pleasing God, while helping others along the path of influence my life has, be it five people or hundreds. Right now, it’s about five, and I need to be okay with that. I trust God sees my heart, He knows I am sold out to His will, and that I long for my life to be a fragrance that is pleasing to Him eternally. I hope you do, too. Remember, it’s the small things, done for the glory of God, that matter.