Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small

The Mustard Seed.  [Jesus] said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

Tiny bits — little things — they don’t hold a lot of value in this world of more, more, more.

But here Jesus is, surprising us once again, as he tells us the Kingdom of Heaven starts as the smallest of seeds.

And with this parable, we can start to understand that tiny is where it all starts. The smallest decisions in our lives, made over and over, are what make up a life.

So many times when I am making a bad decision — such as eating that extra brownie or two — I hear that little voice saying, “It doesn’t matter.” And I’m tempted to believe that this small, tiniest of bad choices, isn’t that big of a deal.

And likewise, when I’m about to do something for another person out of love and a desire to help, I often hear that voice saying, “It doesn’t matter.” The enemy of our souls wants me to believe that these small acts of love don’t matter.

He would have us believe that nothing tiny matters. That if we are tiny, we don’t matter. And certainly he’d love for us to believe that if the Kingdom of Heaven starts out so small then it must not matter either.

But that’s all a lie.

You know it, and I know it. And when we really think about it, our small choices, over time, add up.

I think Jesus is trying to teach us that — trying to open our eyes to the fact that small seeds, when planted, grow large in our lives and impact the world.

And in these verses, one of the pivotal parts comes when Jesus points out that the mustard seed is small —  “When it is sown in the ground.”

But, of course, we know that heaven doesn’t stay small. It grows.

Jesus tells us, “But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

But how does it grow? By the grace of God? Definitely.

But also, I think God gives us the great gift — as a faith community — to take part in pouring out His Living Water on each other.

At home we have this basil that my friend Mary clipped from her herb garden.  She told me to put it in water, because it would last longer, and so I followed her suggestion.

To my amazement, in the following weeks, that basil started to grow roots, and eventually I planted it. This plant, that was destined for death, sprang new life. In a similar way, we were all destined for death until God saved us with the Living Waters of baptism.

Now that basil plant sits on our window ledge where there is plenty of light, and my husband, Justin, waters it (even though he jokes about throwing it out). My friend Mary waters it when she comes to babysit. And of course I water it too.

The plant is flourishing, almost beyond reason, because we are watering it.

When that plant starts to wilt, we know we need to step it up. We need to pour extra water on it.

In a similar way, when we see a member of our faith community — like a wilted plant — struggling in life, we can pour the Living Water of God’s love on them with our small acts of love.

By offering to pray for them, giving them encouragement through meaningful Bible verses, and showing them our love by cooking for them or doing whatever we can to help — we become a community of waterers. God is allowing us to play a small part in the pouring out of His amazing Living Water.

Our family experienced this first hand when my son was diagnosed with leukemia. We were drained and wilting, but our Christian brothers and sisters just kept pouring on the prayers, love, and support. And through their love and prayers, Jesus poured out His Living Water on our family, plumping up the leaves of our faith.

I’m sure many people who showed us love during that hard time felt like their small acts of love didn’t matter much.When someone is in crisis, what we have to offer can seem so small.

But the truth is, every time someone extended themselves to us, reaching out in their small way of love, it mattered. Those small acts of love impacted our life and our story. They watered our faith.

When we act with love toward each other, we are participating in the growth of heaven. And that, my friends, is bigger than all of us!

(I wrote this reflection for a Lutheran Church’s midweek Lenten service. You can watch a video of this reflection being read at the service by my friend, Alison Kern here: The Parable of the Mustard Seed.)

Click Here to Become Email Friends!

This post is linked up with my friends at Inspire Me Monday, Purposeful Faith, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee for Your Heart, Beloved Brews, Tell His Story, Counting My Blessings, and Friendship Friday!

Related Post

20 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small

  1. Thank you for the reminder about the little things. This is something I have been getting from every direction lately. I think God is trying to get my attention! Blessings to you, and we will be praying for your son.

  2. This post was SO convicting to me. I have heard the little voice about my choice of desserts and also in my small acts of love. I feel so often like anything “lil’ old me” would do wouldn’t matter in the big scheme of life. Thank you for pointing out that I was allowing myself to believe a total LIE. No more! Thank you so much.

  3. Yes, Nicki! I have felt so compelled to write a post about the small things. How interesting that God is speaking about this to your heart as well. Glad we could come together here to confirm His message to us. God bless!

  4. Amen, Dana, don’t believe those lies! So grateful to have you here with us today. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Some days when I’m so thirsty for more of Him, I know He’s about to pour out Himself, and begin a new season of spiritual growth within me… more than just a parable about faith, you’ve reminded me that this is also His lesson on how even the small things have tremendous impact in His kingdom.
    Such a beautiful post, glad I visited again from the #RaRalinkup, Jenni 🙂

  6. What a beautiful meditation, Jenni. You’ve made me think about the mustard seed more deeply. I’ve thought before how great works have small beginnings, but hadn’t connected it to the small acts we do that water or encourage one another. Beautiful testimony about friends reaching out to care when your son was sick. I’ve experienced that kind of care too. Small acts do matter!

  7. I love the reminder to focus on the little things Jenni! It’s amaing how when we neglect the little things in our life a mess can pop up that is too big to handle on our own. Wonderful post 🙂

  8. What a great reminder and beautiful reflection. We don’t always need to do the big things, just keeping taking those tiny steps each day. Be watchful for those opportunities to be God’s gardener – planting a seed here, sprinkling some water there, pulling a few weeds over there.

  9. Oh that is interesting, Christine! I had never thought of it like that — feeling more thirsty for Him, and then He pours Himself out, and you begin a new season of spiritual growth. That is such a neat image, thank you!

  10. It’s so true, Betsy! The littlest things can inspire such hope in our hearts, especially when things are hard in life. Thanks for stopping by Genuflected today!

  11. So true! Things do seem to have a snowball effect for better or worse, don’t they?! Thanks for visiting Genuflected today.

  12. Yes! Your comment makes me think of Mother Teresa’s quote, “Do small things with great love.” Love it! Thanks for stopping by Genuflected, Kathryn.

  13. Jenni,
    Your words have touched the depths of my heart today. I have been wrestling with that stupid little lie that all the little things don’t matter, and when compared to all the big things they look like nothing. But you are right- it’s a lie and all the little things add up to those big things. The verse that keeps echoing through my mind is “don’t despise small beginnings.”
    What an absolute delight it has been to “stumble” on your page through Holley Gerth’s link up today. God knew I needed your words. Thank you!

  14. I have lived this. I relate to this. I have been going through difficult times the last few months and I have seen those little details and things around me. Sometimes they look small but they have been big for me. If those little things or actions are made with love, they count and they work very much. Thanks for this reminder and reflection. We must always look carefully for the little things. Blessings!

    Visiting from the #testimonytuesday link-up

    Love, Tayrina

  15. Your words touched my heart today, Jenni. How true that the evil one is constantly trying to deceive us, and tell us that things don’t matter, that we don’t matter. He is, after all, the father of lies, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. Thank you for the reminder. It is so easy to be deceived into thinking that these are just our own thoughts, but we are in a battle and must take our stand for truth. I also love your analogy of watering the wilting plant – it seems such a small act, its hard to believe it really makes a difference. This gives me hope that the little things I do, in obedience to my Father’s prompting, really do make a difference.

    Blessings and hugs,

  16. This is a truly beautiful post – convicting and encouraging all in one! I loved what you said that “When we act with love toward each other, we are participating in the growth of heaven”. A great reminder and something that we can all put into action! Thank you for sharing your heart and journey, blessings to you and your family.

  17. This was such a breath of fresh air today. To know that one small thing can become bigger and flourish. To understand that watering plants helps them to grow just like watering our own selves and others with the Word of God helps us to blossom – all such good words of truth to begin my weekend. Thank you for blessing me with this post today. Your neighbor at #DanceWithJesus.

  18. This is such a great reminder. You’re right the small things do add up a lot. I am guilty of listening to the voice of “it doesn’t matter” all too often. I think you covered this topic well.

Comments are closed.