In-Sight: The Greatness of Littleness

I recently read about Eratosthenes (third century BCE), the first person to accurately measure the circumference of the earth–missing it by only a few hundred miles.  I also learned that he had a broad mind as well as a deep one, expressing interest and having knowledge about a wide variety of subjects.

His friends nicknamed him Beta, a not-too-favoring tag that alleged he was flighty and superficial rather than focused and substantive.  But Eratosthenes held firm to his love of variety.  Accordingly, he left behind pieces of knowledge which others later used to make larger contributions–contributions they might not have made without the fragmentary gift he gave them.

Even though Eratosthenes lived before Jesus, he exhibited the quality which Jesus commended repeatedly: the greatness of littleness–the reality that the Kingdom of God often begins as a mustard seed and only later grows into a larger tree.  In word and deed Jesus modeled the sacredness of every moment–the importance of every word–the holiness of every deed.

Never diminish the little things you contribute to life.  They are valuable gifts in their own right.  And you never know, some of our fragments may later be the spark someone uses to start a fire–the thought someone else waters to make a garden–the inspiration someone else leverages to move a mountain.

We are part of a network where one thing leads to another.  A small stone dropped into the water creates a ripple effect, measurable to the shore.  This is surely one reason why the saints of the ages have never ceased to remind us that we can do little things for God.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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