Summary: Doing the small things to make a big difference.
Trust LITTLE Deeds
World War II left Germany in ruins. Citizens were desperate for supplies. Russia had leveled Berlin’s buildings and sought to do the same to her people. They blockaded food trucks, trains and boats. The U.S. and British military responded with the famous 1948 airlift. For eleven months, they airdropped literally tons of food to Berlin’s 2.5 million people.
Gail Halvorsen was one of the pilots for the United States relief effort. After landing in Berlin one day, the twenty seven year old talked with thirty or so German children on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Though hungry and needy, they didn’t beg or complain.
Impressed, Halvorsen reached into his pocket, produced two sticks of gum, broke them in half, and handed the pieces through the wire. "Those kids looked like they had just received a million bucks," he remembers. "They put that tiny piece of paper to their noses and smelled the gum. They were on cloud nine."
Touched by their troubles, Halvorsen promised to return the next day and drop more gum from his plane. With supply flights landing every half hour, the children asked how they would recognize him. "I’ll wiggle my wings," he told them.
Halvorsen returned to Rhein-Main Air Force Base and bought gum and candy rations from his buddies. He tied the sweets to tiny handkerchief parachutes, loaded them on his C-54, and, true to his word, wiggled his wings over Berlin. Kids in the city streets spotted their friend and ran to gather the falling candy.
Operation Little Vittles had begun. Momentum mounted quickly. Within three weeks the air force sanctioned the crusade. During the following months, U.S. planes dropped three tons of candy on the city. The pilot became known as Uncle Wiggly Wings.
So do small deeds make big differences? Gail Halvorsen thinks so.
Of greater importance, Jesus does. Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
I. Mustard Seeds and Leaven Lumps
A. Jesus’ original audience and those who first read Matthew’s gospel understood this example right away.
1. They knew mustard seeds and leaven lumps.
2. Both small, the seed the size of a freckle (it takes 750 to weigh one gram), the leaven no larger than the end of your thumb.
B. A tiny mustard seed can grow to three times the height of an average man and boast branches large enough to house an entire flock of birds.
C. A pinch of fermented dough can feed forty people three meals a day for several days.
D. What begins minute ends massive.
II. A Timely Reminder
A. Perhaps the early church needed this reminder.
1. What clout did a tiny manger and a bloody cross carry set against centuries of Jewish tradition and Greek philosophy?
2. How could a backwoods movement headed by a rural carpenter gain traction in a religious world dominated by Epicureans, Stoics, and Gnostics?
3. This is a kid on a skateboard competing in the Daytona 500.
B. Perhaps we need this reminder today.
1. We sometimes fear the smallness of Jesus’ story. This fear might keep us from seed sowing.
2. Can the Sunday school account of Jesus hold its own in the Ivy League?
3. Do terms like "sin," "salvation," and "redemption," stand a chance in this sophisticated day of humanism and relativism?
C. The Answer
1. Apparently, we do need this reminder.
2. Where are the Romans who crucified Christ?
3. The Epicureans who demeaned and debated Paul?
4. The Gnostics who mocked the early church?
5. The great temples of Corinth that dwarfed the early church?
6. Do worshipers still sacrifice to Zeus? No, but they still sing to Jesus.
God does uncommon works through common deeds.
III. What difference do selfless deeds make?
A. Have you ever wondered if your work makes a difference? Have you ever questioned the dream you had to make a difference?
B. God’s answer would be, "Just do something and see what happens."
C. That’s what he told the citizens of ancient Jerusalem. For sixteen years, the temple of God had lain in ruins. They had abandoned the work. The reason? Opposition from enemies, indifference from neighbors. But most of all the job dwarfed them.
D. To build the first temple, Solomon had needed over 150,000 men and seven years. What a gargantuan task! The workers must have thought, What difference will my work make? God’s answer: “Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zechariah 4:10 NIV)