Which of the commandments could be considered "the least of the commandments"? If you have an answer you need to find out how very much the "little things" count. This article shows how the small items of your life are far more important than you realize!
THE YOUNG major taxied onto the field, and positioned the jet for takeoff. Ahead, the 8,000 ft. runway narrowed into an invisible ribbon of infinity. Flight plan calculations called for a 6,700 ft. takeoff, leaving a runway excess of 1,300 ft. The major checked the instrument panel for the final time, "revved" the engine up to 100% RPM and released the toe brake. The jet moved forward one inch and for all practical purposes the pilot was doomed! In effect he was already dead. The weather was clear, surface winds calm, engine in perfect condition with no mechanical defects. The pilot was highly experienced with a spotless record. No one person involved in the operation was guilty of a fatal blunder, yet a series of minor blunders, not any one fatal in itself all told the stark fact — the pilot needed even more than 8,000 ft. to get aloft. In fact he needed 8,100 ft., 100 ft. more than the runway length.
Just a Little Short
Normally 6,700 ft. would have been sufficient. The 8,000 ft. would have indeed provided a 1,300 ft. excess. But four "minor" thefts robbed the pilot of that surplus and actually put him in the red! Here's what happened! A four-knot-an-hour tail wind was so small the tower didn't notice or consider it important. This tail wind cost the pilot 310 ft. His surplus was down to 990 ft. At takeoff time the temperature was 97°. But a failure in the warning light system required repair. Not a long delay — only 1/2 hour — certainly not long enough or important enough to change the flight plan. But by takeoff time the temperature had risen to 101°. This cost the pilot 190 ft. His surplus was now down to 800 ft. The next theft resulted from an optical illusion. This was the first takeoff for the major on this field. The end of the runway was actually 260 ft. higher than the takeoff point. Again, under normal conditions this would have been no problem, but with the tail wind and temperature rise the jet now required an additional 550 ft. His surplus was now down to 250 feet! The last theft was the result of carelessness. The major had been "out on the town" with no intention of departing soon. Unexpectedly orders came, so with 3 1/2 hours of sleep he reported to the base. The previous evening while the temperature was cool the plane had been refueled and the following morning the Assistant Operations Officer figured the fuel tank compensation. Instead of adding the figure he subtracted and the groggy pilot failed to spot the error. This cost the pilot 350 ft. He was now 100 feet in the red!
Our Last Chance
Only one chance remained. He could still abort the mission at the 4,000 ft. runway marker, but unknown to the pilot a runway crew had failed to change the runway signs. The runway length had been 7,600 ft., but recently expanded to 8,000 ft. Thus the takeoff point where the runway had been lengthened was actually 400 feet longer than the signs indicated. Hence at the 1,000 ft. marker the jet had already traveled 1,400 ft. Assuming the speed to be sufficient at the 4,000 ft. marker the pilot continued. He was now 8 knots below what was required. Only the last moment told him the shocking truth but it was now too late. As the runway suddenly vanished the jet shuddered violently trying to lift, then plummeted to the earth with a tremendous explosion. It was all over now for the pilot who learned too late it is the little things that count! This fictional incident written up in Harper's Magazine by Beirne Lay, Jr. veteran flyer and author of Twelve O'clock High illustrates from military records the many tiny mishaps which can lead a pilot to disaster. Whether the exact incident took place is irrelevant. The principal lesson is that human beings often fail to realize it is the "little things" that count. Too many people in the world today, and too many brethren in God's Church pay little attention to those matters they consider the least important. Yet in reality can save their lives — their eternal lives! Just as these minor thefts robbed this pilot of his life these "little things" can rob you of your life — forever! Let's examine a few.
The biggest cause for members leaving God's Church is lethargy. These people just give up and quit. And do you know how they start? They start by neglecting Bible study! God's ministers will agree far too many brethren "take it easy" and let down in their personal Bible study first of ull. Somehow they delude themselves into believing as long as they are accepted as church members, as long as they attend Sabbath Services regularly and are "there," as long as they pay tithes, attend holy day meetings and listen to the broadcast they are doing enough. They fail to realize the need for personal, continual, individual Bible study. To them it is a "little thing." But is it little to God? Notice the Bible emphasis on this point. "My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom, and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding — applying all your powers to the quest for it; yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek Wisdom as silver, and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hid treasures; then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God." (Prov. 2:1-5, Amplified.) You wonder why these members become lethargic and let down?' The answer is obvious. They do not understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord. Their failure to study did not allow them to retain what they once knew! Listen! In the years ahead we are going to need every bit of wisdom and knowledge we can acquire. The going is going to get tough and in some areas of life it has already started. Take for example recent changes in the draft law. It is now impossible for some young men in the church to appeal a local board decision. For them there will be no further opportunity to appeal to a hearing officer. In short the local draft board (and all too often the least qualified to judge) now determines the classification. Should you be classified 1-A or 1-AO you will be inducted. Many of our young draft age men are not able to convince their draft board of their sincerity sufficiently to get a proper classification. Do you know why? They are not sure of themselves. They fail to show strength of character in their convictions. And the reason they fail to show strength of character is because they haven't really studied! Here's what God says! "Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved [tested by trial], a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing — rightly handling and skillfully teaching — the Word of Truth." (II Tim. 2:15, Amplified.) What about you? Are you doing your utmost to present yourself to God approved? Probably not. Are you correctly analyzing, accurately dividing, rightly handling and skillfully teaching the Word of Truth? I doubt it. Do you know why? Because many of you, like the jet pilot fail to pay heed to what you consider a "little thing." But God says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Are you destroying yourself for lack of knowledge? Are you like the average American or Britain of whom God says, "they have despised and shown contempt and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they have become utterly estranged." (Isa. 1:4, Amplified.) What about you? Are you becoming estranged from God because you haven't been studying lately? If you say you lack time, you're too busy, or you just can't "get it in," you are admitting you consider everything else in life more important than Bible study. In short, to you Bible study is the very least of the commandments.
Some time ago a young man came to me about a fellow church member who had written him a rather disrespectful letter. I took the letter to the writer in order to determine the problem. Do you know what the real problem was? The writer of that letter had not prayed in three months! Yes, he attended every Sabbath service faithfully. He was even a member of the Spokesman Club. But he looked on prayer as a little matter. To him prayer didn't amount to much. But how does God view it? "My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom, and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding — applying all your powers to the quest for it; yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek Wisdom as silver, and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hid treasures; then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God." (Prov. 2:1-5, Amplified.) Yes.... "you will understand righteousness, justice and fair dealing [in every area and relation]; yes, you will understand every good path. For skillful and godly Wisdom shall enter into your heart, and knowledge shall be pleasant to you; discretion shall watch over you, understanding shall keep you; so may you walk in the way of good men, and keep to the paths of the [consistently] righteous — the upright, in right standing with God." (Prov. 2:9-11, 20, Amplified.) Jesus attached great importance to prayer. And Jesus wasn't talking about those type prayers some church members make while on the job, driving to and from work or even while walking, as a substitute for being in a private place on their knees. True, one should always endeavor to be in an attitude of prayer and it is not wrong to be praying in your mind while engaging in activity if this will not distract you and place you in a dangerous situation. But Jesus did not mean this was to be the sum total of your prayer life. Jesus meant you were to spend much time praying on your knees in private. He said, "keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking it will be opened." (Mat. 7:7-8, Amplified.) Failure to engage regularly, persistently, and privately in prayer results in every kind of heartache, anxiety, mental turmoil, trouble and problem you can imagine. In fact the list is endless. And all because too many feel prayer isn't worth the effort. These are the people who as God says, "lie there sleepless with anxiety, but won't ask for My help." (Hosea 7:14, Paraphrased.) No mortal on this earth possesses the willpower to perfect himself and enter the Kingdom of God. But the earnest heartfelt continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, which is dynamic in its working. With prayer you can make it!
Family Bible Study
Possibly you do study the Bible daily, and pray a great deal, but in addition do you conduct a regular Family Bible study? Or is this the least important? Family Bible study is a time for discussing and teaching (remember II Tim. 2:15) both your wife and children to apply Bible principles. For the children it is a time to fortify them in advance against problems sure to arise from social and school contacts. It is an opportunity to teach them management, dating, what the world is like, and why it is the way it is. The teaching opportunity and subjects are unlimited. Yet many brethren are failing miserably to teach their children even the simplest of God's truth. The Old Testament is full of accounts of those kings and leaders who were successful and unsuccessful in child rearing. And the whole story is simply a matter of education — educating children the Word of God. Parents should in particular Prov. 1-9 from the Paraphrased Living Psalms and Proverbs to get a really clear picture of the benefits gained in teaching their children God's Word. It's time we quit deceiving ourselves into thinking Bible study, prayer and family Bible study are not important. It's time we realize they are not "little things" which do not count. They are in fact big things which make the difference between salvation or a horrible fiery death much worse than the jet pilot who learned the hard way that "little things" do count!