A Little Goes a Long Way
Read Luke 13:18-21 (ESV)
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
How have you seen God use something small to grow His kingdom?
I used to read my kids a book at bedtime in which a dad poured a cupful of bubble bath into the tub instead of a capful. The result was bubbles overflowing the tub and floating all around the bathroom. Sometimes, a little can go a long way.
That is Jesus' point in today’s verses. A little has the potential to go a long way. First, Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a single grain of mustard seed. It started off small but it grew. When Jesus first started preaching and healing, great crowds followed Him. But gradually, the hoards of people proved to be a fickle following and only a relatively small number remained. We talked about the narrow way yesterday. The gift of salvation is free but discipleship requires dedication and doing things God’s way instead of our own. For many people, Jesus’ teachings were just too difficult to commit to. The multitude of followers were fickle and the number of truly dedicated disciples was small.
Great crowds may have followed Him initially but Jesus invested the majority of His time in a small number of people—His 12 disciples. He was preparing them to be sent out to make more dedicated disciples. In Acts 1:15, it records that after Jesus’ resurrection, about 150 people gathered together as the body of Christ. That was a small number of people compared to crowds of 4 to 5 thousand that had once gathered to hear Jesus teach!
But just as a small mustard seed grows into a tree large enough for the birds to nest in, so the church grows larger and larger. The nesting birds may be a symbol to show that His kingdom grows so that even the Gentiles have a place to call home in the kingdom of God. It could also symbolize how the church of Christ blesses and provides for the world through missions organizations, homeless shelters and food pantries, hospitals, crisis pregnancy centers, free counseling centers, and so on. The body of Christ started small in just one region of the world. But like bubbles overflowing a bathtub, it has spread out all over the world.
Jesus also compared the kingdom of God to leaven or yeast. Again, yeast is small but it is powerful. Yeast is an active agent in the growth and quality of the bread. A small amount works its way through the entire loaf and causes it to rise. Jesus is saying that the kingdom of God permeates culture in this way. What started off small is now influencing the entire world and permeating cultures in His name and for His purposes. Isn’t that amazing?
Friends, a little can often go a long way. What little thing are you doing that has the potential to make exponential growth in the kingdom of God? Are you discipling your children at home? Think of the way that can multiply as your family grows. Do you host a small group in your home? Teach a Sunday school class? Volunteer at a homeless shelter once a week? Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God and watch how making a small investment in His Kingdom can grow into something big. A little goes a long way.
God, You are amazing! The way that Your kingdom has grown and continues to grow is incredible. I know that my obedience to You and service in Your Name is a small offering but I know that You can take small things and grow them into big ones. Take my little contributions and grow them for Your purposes and for Your glory. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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