The Small and Simple Things
A talk by Elder Raymond A. Besse
Given April 13, 2014
I would like to start by sharing a quote by Sister Ann M. Dibb in the May 2009 edition of the Ensign: “The small and simple things you choose today will be magnified into great and glorious blessings tomorrow. Living each day as ‘an example of the believers’ Will help you to be happy and more confident".
In this life we cannot always accomplish great things. We can only do small and simple things with great love. How very often we tend to look for the “grand plan”, or the big things we can do to make a big difference, all while the small and simple opportunities that are ever-present pass us by and we tend to look beyond the mark.
But big plans seldom work out, and big ideas seldom take off. Whereas the little, more achievable, the more straightforward and more immediate things, are the things that are right in front of us, those are the things that really matter and really move us forward.
It’s great to dream, but it’s better to do. After all, it’s usually the cumulative effect of so many little things, done persistently, and done well, that creates greatness.
In (Alma 37:6) it states; “By small and simple things, are great things brought to pass.”
In our lives, whether in business or as members of the church, as we pay closer attention to making the most of the little opportunities that lie right in front of us, we will move naturally towards the dreams that matter most.
Recently in my daily scripture study with a friend of mine, we studied about Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
After they were carried into captivity in Babylon, Daniel and his friends asked to be fed vegetables and water rather than the rich food from the royal table. Much of what would have been served on the royal table may have been sacrificed to the Babylonian gods or might have been a meat, such as pork, that would have been considered unclean to a Jewish person. It was at the risk of his life, and that of his friends, that Daniel made such a request to the king’s official who was in charge of the young exiles, but Daniel knew the importance of faithfulness and obedience to God.
Later in their lives, Daniel and his friends faced much greater tests of their obedience to the One True God. It was the faithfulness and obedience to God in the small things, like food choice, that refined their resolve when greater tests came along. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the king’s fury and the fiery furnace because they would not bow down to the image that the king had made, they exercised their faith in God and stayed true to the One who could save them. The same is true with Daniel as he faced the lion’s den because of his refusal to bow to the king.
I want to offer to you a though as we consider the obedience and faithfulness in the small things that God allows in our lives.
It’s highly probable that if Daniel had compromised by eating the king’s food, he would have compromised about other things as well, like bowing to his image. It would have been easy for him to think ‘Oh, I’ll still pray to God, but I’ll just bow to this thing to spare my life, because, after all, I can do a lot of ministry for God if I survive’. That wasn’t Daniel or his uncompromising buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
When you obey God in the small and simple things, it becomes a lot easier to obey Him in the big things. That’s when God shows up. He can shut the mouths of lions and protect you from the flames.”
Recently in my life the Holy Spirit has cautioned me of the need to do a better job of being faithful in the small and simple things. I want God to find me faithful no matter the size of the test, but it is through those seemingly small and relatively insignificant tests that God builds my faith for the larger tests.
Our path to success is uncompromising resolve in big and small things alike. When you obey God in the small things, it becomes a lot easier to obey Him in the big things, and honestly, sometimes we need to just stop and realize there really are no "small" acts of obedience in that they all matter. They all count. They all have the ability to make a HUGE difference in our lives.
As I touch on the subject of obedience, I am reminded of my good friend Alayna Winkle, she once shared with me the words of her former Missions President’s wife “Obedience brings blessings, but obedience with exactness brings miracles.”
Sometimes the big acts of obedience aren't even the ones that can mess us up in life. It is kind of like the way we probably won't trip up on a huge boulder sitting in our path. We can just easily walk around it. But it can be those small stones, they can trip us like none other. We need to constantly be on the look out for those small acts of obedience we may be overlooking and stumbling on.
In closing my dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to search your daily lives and contemplate if there is an area in your life that seems small and insignificant where God is calling you to take a stand and be obedient. Maybe there is an area where you have been trying to convince yourself that it is such an insignificant issue that it really doesn’t matter what you do. Could it be that God is testing your obedience in the small things in preparation for a greater test in the future?
It is my prayer that you and I both will be obedient to God in the small and the simple things in this life, and may our hearts stay tender, aware, and willingly obedient in the smallest of ways.
Of theses things I pray, most humbly in the sacred name of our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.