From childhood, I remember that Timex watches used to have commercials featuring either “torture tests” or short documentaries on true circumstances where their watches endured extreme conditions but still functioned afterward. From being strapped to the propeller of a boat motor to being strapped to the belly of a Sumo wrestler, you would see the watch survive then hear the announcer quote their slogan:
It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Living on the edge of woods in western Pennsylvania and having a small dog named Oscar, we have had occasion to reverse that motto. For a while, almost every day Oscar would come in and we would find a tick or two upon him we would have to remove. Though aggravating, it became somewhat humorous to see him learn to sit still for the tick removal because he associated the word “tick” with getting a dog biscuit afterward. We could say about Oscar:
He takes a ticking and keeps on licking.
Though there was a certain gross factor and we had been warned of tick bites, still we did not consider a tick that big of a deal.
Then I came down with Lyme disease.
Now I am not writing this to elicit sympathy. As the news shows, I am far from being the only one who has contacted this. Several in my congregation have it. Also, thankfully I was diagnosed and treated promptly. Beyond some unusual weariness and occasional joint pain, at this point I am doing fine. Rather, I want to use it illustratively.
For the past six weeks since I began experiencing symptoms, I have had to consult doctors, have lab tests done, take antibiotics, note new symptoms, treat our lawn, be more careful when outside, talk with others about it, etc. In essence, this tiny creature that I took off the backside of my knee, smaller than an apple seed, has impacted my daily existence recently.
In doing so, it has caused me to reflect on a gospel truth regarding the importance of little things. As Jesus said in Luke 16:10:
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.
In your Christian life, a very little thing can have a huge impact on your life. Just yesterday, as I was worshiping God through the Word and sacrament, our pastor faithfully reminded us of the implications of just a little folly in an otherwise upright life from Ecclesiastes 10:1, which says:
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.
Such little things as a seemingly slight offense to another, a small indiscretion in personal conduct, or a bit of pride slipping out in our conversation can begin to stink and foul our lives. We must be diligent and guarded in our Christian conduct. Does this not all begin with our worship of the Lord?
This past week I was instructing a group of young people gathered for a three week program at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary on the importance of Biblical worship. I shared with them this quote from the opening pages of Jeremiah Burrough’s book Gospel Worship:
In matters of worship, God stands on little things.
Burroughs shows in this work that from a little strange fire from the high priests’s sons to a little white lie told by Ananias and Sapphira in the church, little things matter to our infinite God. We should be careful in the worship of God to the little details, be it in the outer forms we use or the inner attitudes we bring before our holy Triune God. Allowing a little dishonor of God or a little sin go unchecked in worship can ultimately lead to awful idolatry and spiritual failure. Little things can blind us to our great Savior.
After all, was it not originally just a little bite that plunged this world into the curse that we now live under? A curse that has brought us the illnesses and even death that come from tick bites or taking a bite of the Lord’s Supper in a sinful fashion (see I Corinthians 11:29-30)?
I have learned recently that now when I come in from the outside, I need to look myself over under a bright light to check for those little deer ticks. It is a good reminder that as I enter the sanctuary of the Lord, I need to shine Christ’s light on my heart to check for even “a very little thing” (I John 1:5-10).
Now, if only I can learn to sit more still under the Master’s hand as He removes them.