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Little Things Mean a Lot

The sum total of little decisions can equal a completely different way of life

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“Throw me a kiss from across the room. Say I look nice when I’m not. Touch my hair as you pass my chair. Little things mean a lot.” So say the lyrics of a very popular song from years gone by. The message was that little things add up to big results in a marriage relationship. That principle holds true right across the spectrum of life itself.

Take table manners for instance. Dining with class and propriety is fading more and more into the background in our culture. Smacking, slurping, burping and fingering our food have now become common in far too many segments of our society. Trying to talk while chomping and guzzling is not even frowned upon by a growing number of people. Think how much more pleasant and enjoyable it is to sit down to a beautifully appointed dinner where the food and drink are shared with others in a polite and considerate manner. Proper utensils are quietly used, napkins appropriately applied and conversation reflects respect for others, rather than rudeness and bad taste. Little, common, simple acts of etiquette around the table at meal time add immeasurably to an unforgettable evening of feasting and fellowship.

Driving courtesy can seem insignificant and unnoticed, yet make the difference between a pleasant commute and outright road rage. Using the turn indicator every time, waving another driver into a long line of bumper to bumper traffic or waiting patiently while someone tries to cross the street, diffuses tension and lifts the spirit—yours and others’. Contrast these actions with the oft seen tailgating, horn blowing, ears laid back aggressive speeders of today, and it isn't hard to see what a difference a little kindness and patience make as we negotiate our way through the streets and byways of our neighborhoods.

It all adds up

Littering seems like such a small inconsequential act at first glance, doesn’t it? After all, it’s only a soda bottle or a small gum wrapper or a potato chip bag. Little bits and pieces of trash. But multiply those little things by the millions of people who dump them out of their car windows, or throw them on the ground or floor where they walk or sit, and by the end of the day you are faced with literally tons of garbage and trash that is strewn and littered all over creation! Now multiply one day of littering by 365 days in a year and you aren’t left wondering how our landscapes and bodies of water get polluted and inundated with so much garbage that, in many cases, they are rendered unusable. Think how different this ugly scene would be if everyone simply took their little bits and pieces of litter and trash and put them in a small bag in their car or boat and then later deposited them into a refuse receptacle to be properly disposed of–no big deal. Just a little consideration for our environment and our fellow man would erase the almost unmanageable blight throughout the world today.

Any successful and lasting society always puts a premium on respect and honor for their senior citizens. This has always been true throughout history. When a nation starts to neglect and abuse its elders, it is nosing over into a free fall toward oblivion. Senior citizens are the anchors and stabilizers of the population. Their experience, maturity and wisdom settle and steady situations and circumstances. They have a calming effect in the middle of life’s turbulent and stormy waters. And yet they are low–maintenance. They give of themselves much more than they ask. Little things like a phone call here and a cheerful card there and a short surprise drop–in visit will delight and enrich their souls. So little means so much to them, especially from their children and grand–children. What they pay back in love, encouragement and strength to the giver of such kindness and consideration is hard to put into words. Try it and you’ll know why God says, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32).

Little things often set in motion cycles of actions and events that lead to bigger and bigger things that can end up being tragic, and even catastrophic. One tossed cigarette that lands in a grass tinder box can start a sweeping inferno of flames that devastates millions of acres of forest and real estate. Burned–out homes, cars and communities are left in the smoldering aftermath of such fires virtually every year. Precious lives and fortunes are lost, all because someone flipped out a little thing like a lighted cigarette or just one match they thought was out, but wasn’t.

Financial trouble and hardship is usually caused by a compilation of little spending decisions that result in big budget headaches. Using your credit card for unplanned and ill–advised random purchases of clothing, toys, gadgets and meals out may seem simple and painless, but when the monthly statement arrives—and it will come—it is amazing how much little, relatively quick buying sprees add up to on the bottom line! Hundreds of dollars to be paid, and no money to pay with. Stress, tension, creditors calling and interest rates ballooning out of sight, all brought about by purchases of relatively small items, with seemingly little price tags, that add up to big money trouble when lumped together on the credit card bill.

No insignificant choices

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Christian Living is one of the areas of life where the principle of “little things mean a lot” shows up the most. The Bible makes that very clear in many scriptures. Notice what the apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 5:6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” He is talking about sin by using the analogy of adding a small measure of yeast to a large lump of bread dough which spreads through the whole lump causing it to rise and turn into a loaf of bread to be baked in the oven. It takes only a little yeast to do that, just as it takes only a little sin to besmirch an individual’s reputation and corrupt one’s spiritual condition. A little lying, stealing or immorality has a corrosive effect on our character and opens the door to spiritual disaster in our Christian lives if not dealt with swiftly and in a Godly manner.

But then there is the positive side of the equation in our Christian lives. The “golden rule” sums it up very nicely. Jesus Christ said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Think about the impact that one simple, cogent principle would have on the whole world if everyone put it into practice. Caring and sharing would return big time, and the ripple effect generated by this attitude of giving, in little and big ways, would start a revolution back to a value–based society instead of what we have today, a head–long rush toward getting while the getting is good.

“Give me a hand when I’ve lost my way. Give me your shoulder to cry on. Whether the day is bright or gray, give me your heart to rely on. Send me the warmth of a secret smile, to show me you haven’t forgot. For now and forever, that’s always and ever, Honey, little things mean a lot.”

That beautiful song concludes with these rich words which still ring true today, over fifty years after they were a big hit. Oh, that the profound meaning of those lyrics would make a roaring comeback so everyone could experience what real living was meant to be.