Do you hate having an enormous task before you and knowing you will have to accomplish it just a little at a time? I do too, and it is not my fault! It is the fault of this modern world with all of its conveniences and thoughts of instant gratification. You can bake a potato in three minutes or boil a cup of water in thirty seconds. You can write a letter and email it anywhere on the planet in five minutes or find out the how to on just about anything in a few seconds at www.com. We do not have to wait patiently for very many things. In this country we want fast food, fast service, expedited shipping and even faster results! Actually, I do not hate tasks that can only be accomplished just a little at a time, nor do I think I am innocent in my choice to follow the instant gratification world that is ours. However, I do find it alarming that I can be so easily mislead regarding the time and effort required to accomplish the difficult tasks of this life and the duties of discipleship concerning eternal life.
For instance, I am currently implementing a new healthful eating lifestyle in order to shed about forty pounds and lower my blood pressure. I have never needed to lose this much weight, and it is sometimes overwhelming. I have worked out and eaten healthful meals before and lost ten pounds in a week, just not in this forty-seven year old body! At any rate, my eating habits are improving, just a little at a time, and I am shedding the weight and feeling much better. The health gurus tell us that two pounds per week is the best way to lose weight, and I have, as of today, lost ten pounds over the last month. So, what I initially expected to take four weeks will in the end take four months!
Yet, by the grace of God and the constant encouragement of my wife I have persevered and improved my perspective and expectations. I am learning that old habits do not die hard; they die just a little at a time, by faith. This reminds me of what the LORD would tell Israel about the nations they were to dispossess in the land of Canaan: The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed (Deut 7:22–23 NIV).
There are some things in this life that are worth the effort of doing – just a little at a time like: learning to love and cherish your spouse, leading a soul to the Lord Jesus, training your children in the way they should go, and forgiving others or yourself consistent with the cross, just to name a few. In fact, God tells us the way of the kingdom that leads to life is small and narrow while the way that leads to destruction is wide and broad (Matt 7:13–14). Which do you think is marked by just a little at a time? Which do you suppose is filled with promises of instant gratification? Father, bless us in the faithfulness that will go the extra mile of just a little at a time, so that we may live holy lives to your glory, Amen (Eph 3:20–21).
Peace, in your progress,
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.