Little Really Can Be a Lot

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In 1924, Kittie Sheffield wrote the words to a song that I became familiar with through the Gaithers. It’s called “Little is Much When God is in it.”

    In the harvest field now ripened
    There’s a work for all to do;
    Hark! the voice of God is calling,
    To the harvest calling you.

        Refrain:
        Little is much when God is in it!
        Labor not for wealth or fame;
        There’s a crown, and you can win it,
        If you go in Jesus’ name.

    In the mad rush of the broad way,
    In the hurry and the strife,
    Tell of Jesus’ love and mercy,
    Give to them the Word of Life.

    Does the place you’re called to labor
    Seem so small and little known?
    It is great if God is in it,
    And He’ll not forget His own.

    Are you laid aside from service,
    Body worn from toil and care?
    You can still be in the battle,
    In the sacred place of prayer.

    When the conflict here is ended
    And our race on earth is run,
    He will say, if we are faithful,
    “Welcome home, My child—well done!”


It is more or less a missionary hymn, but as I read from Matthew 15 this morning its broader meaning came to mind.

Toward the end of the chapter is recorded the story of Jesus feeding 4,000 people from seven loaves and a few small fish (15:34). As Jesus breaks the bread and the disciples distribute it to the crowd, Matthew makes this observation: “They all ate and were satisfied” (15:37).

Sometimes we feel that the little we can do for the Kingdom is not enough to fill a thimble. Sometimes what we feel that what we can contribute gets derailed—the urgent taking precedence over our well laid out plans for our days, weeks, or even months. The journey passes through tunnels and rough places and we wonder if we might be trying to make a path where there never was one from the start.

Perhaps the person, or persons, who had brought those seven loaves and those few fish felt the same when they started out that morning to gather on the mountainside to listen to Jesus. Three days passed (15:32) and they hadn’t eaten their rations—the bread might have been stale by then and we won’t even discuss the fish which we hope was salted down so that it wouldn’t spoil in the Mediterranean heat.

And then Jesus decided to feed the multitude. Suddenly little became very important. Jesus took little and made it big. Without Jesus it would have always been little, but in His hands it not only fed 4,000 people but it filled them as well. They were “satisfied.”

In the times of doubt and drought, there is an important lesson here that is echoed in the old hymn. Little really is a whole lot when God puts His hands on it. Our little bit does make a difference even though at the time of offering it we may not see how it could.

But we can trust the One to whom it is given to use it well and to glorify Himself through it.

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