Advice to Church Planters in the Age of Bigness

“Who hath despised the day of small things?” There is a hidden concept here, a little nugget of gold, that is huge if you can grasp it. Let our minds and our hearts open up to these words from God.

“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).

“Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes as nothing?” (Haggai 2:3).

“Then they that feared the Lord spake one with another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:16,17).

Rarely would a craftsman, doctor, engineer, musician, or technician, of even mediocre fame, not spend time in the precise calibration of his instruments, both before and after a critical or important procedure. Likewise, it behooves us, periodically, to stop and rethink certain things we have learned to take for granted; to get our minds and our hearts properly calibrated, and to be free from foreign influences that misdirects our alignment and our appreciation of “truth.”

Is this matter of greatness and smallness an important one? Confusion abounds in the Church today and many are found in the enemies camp because of their inability to correctly know how God defines these terms. We can identify two groups of people dealt with, in the captivity: those who would return, the remnant, and the ones who would not return, who found a certain comfort with their captors. The Lord, knowing the attitude of their hearts and their reactions asked the question, “Who hath despised the day of small things?” The Lord knew that, “ . . . the day . . . ” was not as small as they believed it to be.

Bigness and Greatness, Littleness and Smallness

We have a way of confusing “bigness” with “greatness,” but they are two entirely different things. “Bigness” may be a matter of bulk or mass – of outward physical dimensions – the impression that a thing makes upon the senses, the “wow” factor. “Greatness,” on the other hand, is a matter of moral qualities of “goodness” and “rightness,” a matter of our correct behavior before God. You may not be able to measure it, or even see anything to measure in it at all, from a human standpoint. Yet from God’s perspective it may be very great. There is a lot of difference between bigness and greatness from God’s standpoint. In the same way, there is a great deal of difference between “littleness” and “smallness.” A “little” person is one whose nature is petty, trivial, mean, despicable – little! But, you can be quite small, and yet of tremendous value. Wouldn’t you rather have an ounce of gold than one hundred pounds of lead? It is a matter of worth not weight.

“Smallness” as seen with the eyes of men, becomes a matter of being “objective,” based on observable facts; we see things in relation to other things and judge accordingly. We may say of something: Oh, but that is so small, and “despise” it. And yet, a “ . . . day of small things . . . ,” despised in the eyes of the world, and the worldly, may have tremendous potential. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). In this little verse lay a seed of greatness. “Fear not . . . ” because your size is small and you are despised. Do not weigh your worth in the scales of the world, but know that your God finds your smallness of great value, and He will be with you, and in that you have immeasurable worth; “little,” yes, but only in outward size. The Bible is rich in examples of God using “small” beginnings, those who had been scorned and despised, overlooked, and set aside, by those who had this mentality of “bigness.”

A Despised Remnant, Precious to God

Now, in these verses above you will notice that there is something that is of great value and precious to God, when men see only smallness. In the “end time” we find God saying, “They shall be mine . . . in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure . . . ,” “They that feared the Lord” – just that little company, that “ . . . little flock . . . ,” that feared the Lord, and thought upon His Name, and was preoccupied with Him in their smallness and faithfulness. They represented something of such value to the Lord, that “a peculiar treasure” hardly speaks of just how precious it really is to God. There is a lot more here than the translation can convey.

Why were these people considered “great” by God when the rest of the world tagged them as “little,” of no concern, and rejected? What does the Lord see that the others miss? Well, we can, at minimum, add chaste (i.e., simple, pure, virtuous), and disciplined (i.e., trained through adversity, controlled behavior) to there list of character attributes. This little company was, comparatively, a disciplined and chastened company. They had come out of the fiery trials of Babylon. They had been through God’s leadership training course, all the discipline of those years in exile, and had accepted it for what it was. They were of those who had hung their harps upon the willows, and said: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Ps. 137:4). “The Lord’s song” – you can see where their hearts were. And then the day came when the announcement was given: You can go back – you can all go back to Zion! What did this mean? To those who understood, it meant that a few were given the gigantic task of rebuilding Jerusalem, but there, they could “sing the Lord’s song.” To the vast majority, the attitude that their present position, that they had built, and attained to some enviable level of comfort, was much more desirable than that of Zion. And this little company, with all the hardships, difficulties, sufferings, toil, and much more, that was involved in going back, went back, because their hearts were in Zion, and Zion was in their hearts. It was a matter of a deep heart relationship to the Lord, and of that which was dearest to His heart. And so they were always “thinking upon His Name,” talking together about His interests and what He really wanted. Simply put, they gave up the “organized” and highly instituted forms of their religious life, and returned to their first works of trust and dependence on a mighty, powerful, saving, and faithful God, and never considered their outward smallness, only His greatness.

They were identified with “smallness” and insignificance. They were, comparatively, little. A despised, seemingly misguided, ragtag, unorganized, people. I expect that most of those who stayed behind thought they were fools. Well, that may be true, but what did the Lord think? That was the point. Malachi tells us what the Lord thought; a chastened, a disciplined people, whose hearts were for the Lord.

The discipline has taken place; the chastening has been carried out; the heart has been searched: the Lord has found something remaining, refined and small. You say “small?” Not in the eyes of the Lord – it is something very great. That is what is important to the Lord; that is what He is looking for, and that is what He calls “great!” Although, looking at it with natural eyes – and the eyes of men always judge by the outward size and appearance – men may despise, from the Lord’s standpoint there is much intrinsic value. And, with Him, everything is a matter of “intrinsic value,” not bulk! It has always been that way, and it is that way still.

Think about this illustration from the Lord. “If salt have lost its saltness, what is the good of it?” (Matt. 5:13; Luke 14:13). You may have a “big” mountain of tasteless salt – tons of it! – but it is useless except to be cast into the street. The Lord wants a “small” teaspoonful of salt, with all of its ability to bring life to the hidden flavor of His creation; it is more valuable than tons of tasteless salt that has a mere pretense and appearance of something worthwhile or valuable. It is the true, unpretentious value, that is of interest to our Lord; not the showy, “here I am,” “ain’t I great,” bigness. The Divine seed, hidden in the heart, is the vital quality! And, for that to emerge, there has to be chastening, discipline, and suffering; the heart has to be searched; the work has to penetrate deeply, and only thereby will the true “savor” be released, and God’s mind be understood, and His intentions recognized.

Concern for God’s Eternal Thought

What was in the minds of these people that warranted God’s attention, that He should “harken” unto them? They understood that the thing that was at the heart of the matter was God’s Home. The Temple represented the eternal, and abiding thought of God – where He dwells amongst His people. David probably understood this better than anyone, and God harkened unto David. But, David’s house fell into captivity, because they that followed did not understand what David understood about the “tabernacle” of God. Before the world began, it was in God’s mind to dwell with men, and all through the Bible it is one complete picture. Then at the end of the Bible it is – “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them . . . and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). That is God’s everlasting thought concerning the House of David, His dwelling-place in the midst of His people. We know the outward reality, but do we know the spiritual reality of that. Amos’ prophesy 9:9-12, and Acts 15:16-17 fulfillment gives a complete picture. (Amos 9:9-12) “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.” But, the writer of Hebrews let us know that there remains a final shaking, which will also include the whole organized Church itself and all its bigness. “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:26-29). What these people understood, like David, was that our lives do not consist of things, nor does God dwell in buildings made by hands, or that our constructs even impress Him, but that through a great shaking and sifting, people of understanding emerge, people whose vessel is cleansed, whose tabernacle is prepared, whose heart is humbled, and who have no expectations in this world.

Here, then, are people prepared, in line with God’s thought. Prepared in Babylon, as in the organized Church today, God’s thought is distilled and extracted from a chaste and disciplined life.

The Lord always calls it spiritually great, when you are wholly centered on that which He has in mind. Let that people be “small” from outward standards, and “despised” by men of distorted judgment – God says: “That is great and you are not to despise it.” “Who hath despised the day of small things?”

They wept! – look at the context of this statement (Hagg. 2:3). They cried over the situation! They were distressed because of the former glory and that what they were witnessing was such a disaster. But, when faced with a reality check, and a word from the Lord, they were put back on course, (Hagg. 1:2). These people were troubled, heartbroken, distressed, and if they despaired for a time, and said: “It is no use,” – that was simply because they were, in their hearts, deeply disappointed. And you cannot be disappointed unless you have had some kind of vision of a finished “appointment” or commission. But, today is the day of “Rapid Rewards,” and we, again, lose our focus. David is our example, in that he always came back to the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God and His desire, in us. David never completed the Tabernacle, it was for another time, but the materials were perfected in David himself, at the threshing floor of Ornan. The instrument was purified there and the costly materials produced, through a severe purging of the chaff.

Like David, deep in their hearts, was the vision of the tabernacle. They suffered in their hearts because of the vision. That is what God is looking for, people who, in their hearts, through all kinds of trials and testing, even failures, still have the vision of what God is after, and suffer concerning it. God recognizes that and says, “put that down in the Book; don’t let that be forgotten; remember that. It is going to come up in the day that I make my peculiar treasure.”

Pointing to the Lord Jesus

We must restructure our thoughts, and run from worldly ways of doing things for the Lord, things which have no eternal standards or values.

From God’s standpoint, “value” is always a matter of how much of Jesus is present anywhere. The test of everything is how much it truly represents Christ – how much of Jesus is there, not how “big” and impressive it is, from man’s standpoint.

Of course, some will say, God is a great God, and we expect a great God to do great things. A common attitude in the Church today is, “Attempt great things for God: Expect great things from God.” Yes: but be sure that you know what “greatness” is from God’s standpoint, and that you are not confusing “greatness” with “bigness,” intrinsic value with outward bulk. What the Lord is after are the values of His Son. They are the eternal values. Therefore…

“Who hath despised the day of small things?”

by Steve Blackwell

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alex Franco November 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Hello there,

I’ve always feel that I’ve been called for greatness and certantly I have found greatness in the small things of this world. I am Alejandro from Mexico 28 years old and I have been baptized as christian here in New Zealand (I have lived in NZ in the last 3 years). I am looking for a big change in my life and I want to give everything away to offer my life completly to God or what I can call the living-truth. I need some consel and I would love to talk to someone that is passing thru the same experience as me.

It will be great if you could contact me or if you can provide me a phone number where I can call

Sincerely

Alex Franco

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