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Little Things in the
Dr. Jack Hyles
"Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
One hardly travels through Italy, and especially Rome, without being
impressed with the great Michelangelo. I came away from Rome a real fan of
his. One day he was working on a painting. A friend noticed the painting.
Days passed. The person returned. He noticed that no progress has been made.
He asked of Michelangelo: "Why haven't you been working on the painting?"
The great artist replied, "I've been working day and night on it."
"Well, what have you been doing? I can see no changes or additions
Michelangelo replied, "I worked on a finger of a person for a day. I worked
on the lobe of an ear for a little bit. I worked on a wrinkle of a face
The person asked this question, "Why do you spend so much time on trifles?"
The great painter answered, "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no
Don't forget that: "Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle."
It is interesting, I think, how that God chose in telling the greatest story
the world has ever known a series of little incidents, little things, little
tasks, little people, and little places to give us the story of Christ's
coming into the world. You could not read the account in Luke without being
impressed with the fact that there is nothing here that man calls bigness.
There were many big men and many wealthy men in Palestine at this time.
There were scholars of the most profound and various learnings at the
greatest of universities. There were aesthetics who had left the joys of
home to live in the deserts, to fast and to pray, and to give themselves to
religious exercise. Yet it was not to them that the angels appeared. Their
ears did not hear the "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good
will toward men." God, in His wisdom, did not choose to send the angels to
sing the message to those who taught in the universities, or to the learned,
or to those aesthetics who dwelt to fast and pray on deserts. The greatest
news that the world has ever heard was heard by simple shepherds, little
men, little people. Great men were passed by and little men heard the story.
The eyes of great, noble, wealthy people were not blinded by the stars and
by the light from Heaven, but the eyes of shepherds. The ears of great men
did not hear the angels say, "Fear not," and a multitude of Heavenly hosts
singing in the Heavens. God chose to appear to simple shepherds. Little
people, if you please.
One of these elite was not chosen to carry the babe in her womb. It was not
a fashionable, wealthy, or learned lady of Nazareth or Palestine that was
chosen to carry the Christ Child in the womb. It was given to a simple Mary,
a poor girl of Nazareth, to do so.
None of these men were chosen to head the home in which the Christ Child
would be reared. That was left to an humble carpenter.
It's always this way in the Bible. For the Lord says in I Corinthians 1:27,
28, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the
things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are
despised, hath God chosen yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought
things that are." One of the most encouraging things of the Bible is that
God uses little people to do big tasks. Be encouraged, little people. God
uses us. Be encouraged, unlearned people, God uses us.
Who killed Goliath? It was little David from the back side of the desert.
Who defeated the Midianites, using 300 men? Was it a man from a university?
Was it a man from the West Point of the day? It was little Gideon, who was
called while hiding behind a winepress threshing wheat. He was the runt kid
of the runt family of the runt tribe of the runt nation of the world. God
chose him to lead the army and put to flight the enemy of God's people.
Who led the Israelites out of bondage toward the Promised Land across the
Red Sea upon dry ground? Who was it that went up on Mt. Sinai and received
the instructions for the tabernacle and the tablets of stone on which were
engraved the laws of God? Who was it? It was a boy who was placed in an ark
and placed in the Nile River by a poor, humble slave mother, Jochebed.
Who sent Naaman to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy? Was it some
fashionable friend, some delightful, educated, well-versed friend of the
family? No, a little maid said, "If you can get to Elisha, he can take care
The entire Christmas story and all the Bible reminds us that God uses little
people. God uses them to do big things.
Who gave food to feed the five thousand? Was it a restaurant who catered to
the feeding of the multitudes? Was it the outstanding caterer of the day or
the outstanding chef who had the best cuisine? No, a little boy with a lunch
basket of five loaves and two fishes gave it to God, Jesus blessed it, and
God again used little people.
Who rimmed the Mediterranean Sea with the Gospel? Who took the Gospel from
Jerusalem and all around Asia and then to Europe, and turned the known world
upside down for God? Was it a man of wealth and fame? No, it was a little
Jew with a small physique and bad eyes. God uses little people.
Who was it who saw the resurrected Christ in His glory on that Easter
morning, when "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His
foes"? Who saw Him first? Some queen from palatial surroundings? Some
princess with beautiful garments? No, it was a woman once possessed with
seven devils, even Mary Magdalene.
Who was it that was chosen as an object lesson of greatness by Jesus? Was it
a king from a palace? No. The captain of an army? No. A statesman from a
desk? No. A wealthy man from the conference room? No. Who was it chosen as
the greatest of all? Jesus took a little child and put the child in the
midst of them and said, "Here is the greatest of all." When He decided to
name the greatest, what did He name? A king, a businessman, a rich man, a
wealthy man, a great statesman? No, He said the servant is the greatest of
So it was in the Christmas story: Mary, Simeon, Anna, the shepherds,
Zacharias. It doesn't read like a hall of fame. God uses the common people.
He uses little people.
Here is your chance, my dear friend. God wants to use you. But you say,
"Preacher, I'm the one my family would say would be the least one to
succeed." So was David. You say, "But I can't even talk well." Neither could
Moses. But you say, "Preacher, you don't understand. I'm just a little
runt." So was Paul. But you say, "Preacher, I'm not well." Neither was
Timothy. But you say, "Preacher, I don't have the gifts of the ministry. I
don't have any education or training." Neither did the Apostle Peter. I am
simply saying that God in His wisdom has chosen to use the little people.
When God shook our nation, He used "Crazy Moody." God. used a Billy Sunday,
who threw away his baseball glove, put away his spikes, went to the Pacific
Garden Mission, stumbled in a drunken bum and came out a transformed child
of God. When God decides to shake a world, He doesn't always go to the
seminary and take the Ph.D. He doesn't always go to the college and take the
learned people. God has a wonderful way of using the simple to confound the
Little people, here's your chance. (By the way, this is your only chance.)
God can use little people.
Len G. Broughten, the pastor of the largest church in Georgia, weighed less
than a hundred pounds. Once he was in a debate with a famous man. The famous
man became angry, for it was obvious that he was losing the debate. He
shouted, "You little runt, I'll-I ought to chew you up and swallow you."
Len G. Broughton got up and said, "If you did chew me up and swallow me,
you'd have more brains in your stomach than you do in your head."
God uses little people. He sometimes uses people without much training. He
sometimes uses people without much talent. Then He can get the glory. So in
the Christmas story, God uses little people.
Now there were palaces of beauty and splendor in Palestine. There were great
universities. There were great estates in which were the most plush
furnishings. There were nice hotels for the wealthy. There were plush homes
with elaborate decor. Yet when
our Lord came to the world, He did not come to such surroundings. He came in
a manger in Bethlehem.
The Last Supper was held in a borrowed room. For Pentecost the 120 met in an
upper room. The five thousand were fed on a hillside. King David was found
in the field. Gideon was found behind the winepress, hiding. The Son of God
was buried in a borrowed sepulchre. Many of the epistles of Paul were
written in a dungeon. Moses saw the burning bush on a desert. PILGRIM'S
PROGRESS was written in jail by John Bunyan on milk bottle stoppers. Moody
was discovered in a shoe store. That means that in your house there could be
one of the great preachers of the day. That little person you're rocking in
your crib may be a Moody. That little girl you tuck in tonight may be a
I'm saying that when God chooses a great leader, He doesn't always go to the
palaces of Egypt. He often goes to the bulrushes of the Nile River. He goes
to an ark, dabbed with pitch and mud.
Blessed be God! God can use you, and God wants to use you. "But I'm little,"
you say. God uses little people. "But I'm unlearned." God uses unlearned
people. "But I'm not very smart!" God uses dumb people.
Angels did not sing to Bethlehem's elite. They sang to shepherds in a field
of a Child in a manger. God appears in humble places. He appeared to
shepherds in the field, to Stephen outside the gate, to Jacob walking down a
lonely road, to the children in a fiery furnace, to John on Patmos, to Peter
on a rooftop. Our Lord uses little places.
No place in the Bible do we find this taught more plainly than in the story
of Bethlehem's manger. Oh, today, in your place, in your house, you may have
a great preacher. In your house you may have a great missionary. I've come
to the place in my life where I never discount a person who walks down the
aisle of our church; I never do.
In a little apartment somewhere, where a family tries to make ends meet may
come the next Moody. Some of you mothers, God bless you, who are rearing
children by yourself, husbands have left you, and you have to pay all the
bills and make all the living, and you get up early in the morning to go to
work, you get up before the sun is up, before it's daylight, you wonder if
it's worth it. You come home at night and have to clean and cook and there's
no husband to come home. You have to be the mother and the father too. You
have to pay all the bills and make ends meet.
You have to train the children and at the same time try to make a living. At
times you feel you'll throw up your hands in desperation and say, "Is it
worth it?" Yes, it's worth it. Say, that's usually where God goes to get His
Gideons, His Elishas, and His Elijahs. That's where He usually goes-little
places, if you please.
In your Sunday school classroom there may be a great preacher. In your
classroom there may be a boy who is wiggling now and won't listen now. He
may be the one to lead in building America's next great work or in leading
America toward God. He may be a Moody who will shake two continents. Who
knows? Who knows? Who knows?
Years ago a simple country preacher resigned his church in failure and he
said to his deacons, "Only one convert this year, and that was just wee
Bobby Moffat, just a little boy."
The deacons said, "Pastor, we hate to see you go, but we have had a bad
year. It's been a failure as far as the year is concerned: we've only had
one convert. That is wee Bobby Moffat."
The pastor did resign. What the pastor did not know and what the deacons did
not know was that wee Bobby Moffat was to grow up to become one of the
greatest missionaries the world has ever seen. Who knows, tonight, which
girl in your class will be the Florence Nightingale of the future? Who knows
but that the next Billy Sunday may be sitting in your Sunday school class
next Sunday morning? God uses little people and He uses little places.
He used a manger and swaddling clothes. When Christ came into the world, He
did not come to a hospital maternity ward. He did not come as a child in
palatial surroundings, but He came in a manger, in swaddling clothes, in a
stable. This is the way it always is. When God chooses to do something, He
uses little things. What did He use to feed the five thousand? Five loaves
and two fishes. What did He give to Shamgar when he defeated the Philistines
and killed six hundred of them? An ox goad. What did God give to Moses with
which to part the Red Sea? A golden rod or a magic wand? No, just an old
God doesn't need anything big. God needs yielded little things. When God
chose to call Moses, did he use a neon sign? No, a burning bush. What did
God use to restore sight? Did He use penicillin? No, He used some mud. What
did God use to turn the water into wine? Did He use some beautiful vessels
from the palace or from the temple? No, He used some discarded old vessels
found beside the road. God uses little things. He upholds the sparrows
wings; He paints the lily of the field. He numbers the hairs of the head.
Scientists tell us that the smallest insect under the microscope that cannot
be seen with the naked eye, is just as complete as God's biggest creatures.
God is just as careful when He makes the little insect as He is when He
makes the biggest of His creatures. God is concerned about little things.
But you say, "I don't have much." Well, you don't need much. So you're not
very smart? You don't have to be very smart. So you're not very big? You
don't have to be very big.
When the Christ Child came to the world and God became flesh, or, how big it
was! There was nothing in the world so big as this. Never had a transaction
transpired like this one. Here is the preexistent God becoming flesh. Now
there's a way to Heaven; now here's the Saviour coming with the best news
the world has ever known.
God used a little town called Bethlehem, some poor shepherds in the fields
watching their flocks by night; a poor little girl in Nazareth (so poor that
when she took Jesus to the temple, she couldn't bring a lamb: she brought
two turtle doves); a poor carpenter's shop in Nazareth.
He could have preached a Sermon on the Mount every morning, if He had so
chosen. Each night, He could have settled a stormy sea, had He so desired.
At noon each day, He could have ascended into Heaven and been back before
sundown, and let all the people see Him in His glory of His transfigured
beauty, had He so desired. He could have, at Pilate's Hall, been
transfigured into His glorified body, had He so chosen. But our Lord always
took care of the little tasks.
Someone asked me to write an article about something in Dr. John R. Rice's
life that shows his greatness. I wrote this story:
I was preaching in Dallas, Texas. Suddenly I felt a draft across the pulpit.
I noticed that there was a door open on my left. I said, "Someone close the
door, please. There's a draft. I'll be hoarse in a few minutes." Nobody
moved. I said, "Some ushers, please close the door." Nobody moved. Then I
said, "Would some body please close the door." Suddenly the great Dr. Rice,
sitting on the front, stood to his feet, humbly, carefully, gently, walked
over to the door, and closed it. Then he came back and had a seat.
I stopped and said, "You have just seen an example of the greatness of John
Our Lord was always concerned with the little tasks. On the cross, here is
God, paying the price for our sin. On the cross, here is the Son of God,
forsaken by the Father, and crying, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken
me?" The heavens shake and the earth quakes, the sun blushes and the moon is
turned black. The graves in Jerusalem have been opened. What does Jesus take
time to do? He says, "John, take care of Mother for me." He said, "Mama,
John is going to take care of you. `Behold thy son. Son, behold thy mother."
It is interesting that on the first Easter morning, when the grave was
opened and Christ the Son of God became a victor over Satan and sin and
death and the grave, He took time to fold His garments and lay them in order
before leaving the tomb. A little thing, yes, but important to God.
There was never, never anything too small for Christ. I say that the little
thing may be beneath you, but diligence is not beneath you. A task may be
little, but diligence is not little. So to be diligent on a little task is
wise. If anything is worth doing, it's worth doing well. Say, what's your
job? Teaching a Sunday school class? Jesus did the little tasks well. What's
your job? Taking care of the nursery? Then you be the best nursery caretaker
in the country. Jesus did the little jobs well. What's your job? Taking care
of the ushers? Then you do it better than anybody in the country does it.
Jesus took care of little tasks, and He did them properly. What's your job?
A secretary in a department? Then do it well. Jesus took time to do little
jobs well. What's your job? A superintendent of a department? Then do it
well. Jesus took time to do the little tasks well. What's your job? Sweeping
out the building? Then do it well. Jesus took time to do the little jobs
well. What's your job? Typing letters? Then do it well. Jesus took time to
do little jobs well. Say, what's your job? Singing in the choir? Then do it
The Christmas story is built around little people who were in little places
who did little tasks with little things. The Christian religion has been
built around little people in little places who do little tasks with little
things and do them well.
This is illustrated so beautifully in the Passover. The lamb was slain, and
the blood was placed on the doorposts and lintel. The death angel passed
over and the firstborn was taken in every home where the blood was not
applied. God told them to use a hyssop weed with which to apply the blood.
Now, the hyssop weed was everywhere. It was a little field weed. God did not
require some beautiful flower, a Rose of Sharon or a lily of the valley. No,
just a hyssop weed. That little hyssop weed, in the hands of a person,
applied the blood on the doorpost and on the lintel.
If you're not saved, the smallest thing you can do is the greatest thing you
can do. Men, like Naaman of old, have been trying to use far better rivers
than the River Jordan, ever since that day. What? Faith?
"No, sir, I'll keep the Ten Commandments and be good and get to Heaven."
No, you'll die and go to hell unless you have faith in Jesus Christ. "I'll
tell you what. I'll live a good life, and give to the poor, and I'll earn my
way to Heaven."
No, you won't. Like Cain of old, you'll find yourself in hell because you
brought the fruit of your own labors and not the blood of an innocent
"What? Just faith?"
Like people have said so often: "Brother Hyles, you make it too easy."
No, I didn't make it easy at all. God made it easy.
The whole truth is simply this: Yield yourself and God can use you to do
great things. Do you own a fish market? Then let God have it; He can feed
thousands. Do you have only two fish? Let God have them: He can feed five
thousand. Do you have a bakery? Let God have it. If you have just five
loaves, let God have that too. Do you own a place that makes sceptres-royal
sceptres to be held in the hands of kings and queens? Give to God. If all
you have is a walking stick, give it to God.
Could I ever forget, when I enrolled in college in Arlington, Texas? I
walked through the door of the dean's office and said, "Dean, my name is
And he said, "What course do you want to take here?" I said, "I'm studying
to be a preacher."
"Why," he said, "you don't strike me as being the type."
"I'm not." I said, "I've come to ask you a personal favor. I'm going to be a
preacher and I flunked public speaking in high school. I can't make a talk.
I've preached one sermon; it lasted three minutes."
He said, "What do you need?"
I said, "Will you let me take three courses in public speaking and two
courses in speech in one year?"
"Why," he said, "that's irregular."
"Well, I'm an irregular kind of student. I need some help. I want to be a
preacher." I began to cry, and my lips began to quiver, as I said, "But I
want to be a preacher and I can't make a speech." I said, "Could I take
it-three courses of speech?"
I was just a stuttering, stumbling, timid introvert. I can still recall
going home at night, and after everybody was in bed, I'd lie on the bed, and
hang my head over the end of the bed, and go, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho,
ho, ho, ho, haw, haw, haw, haw, haw, he, he, he, he, he, he, hey, hey, hey,
hey, hey, hey," as I learned how to use the diaphragm instead of the muscles
of the throat. I didn't know it then, but God was getting me ready to preach
three sermons a day; I have for almost sixteen years now and seldom have
voice trouble. Do you know why? Because God has chosen the foolish things to
confound the wise.
I can still see my professor saying, "Mr. Hyles, you'll never make it.
You'll never make it." He'd say, "O.K., quote this poem." It was some poem,
you know, like "Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow. And
He'd say, "Put something into it!"
And I'd say, "Mary...."
"Put some feeling into it!"
"Put some expression into it!"
I'd work by the hours, and he'd say, "You'll never make it." But God doesn't
need a great eloquent speaker. He just needs a dedicated little fellow.
Do you have much? Then give God much. But if all you have is a little, then
give God a little. Let Him have it all. A little thing? Little talents? You
live in a little apartment? A little bit of furniture? An old car? Shabby
clothes? Not much education? Not much talent? Not much success so far?
(Joseph wasn't exactly the biggest contractor in Nazareth either, and the
shepherds weren't exactly the owners of the biggest packing houses in
Palestine. They were just shepherds watching their flocks by night.)
Do you have a little talent? Let God have it. Do you have little things? Let
God have them. Are you a little person? Let God have yourself. Are you in a
little place? Then believe God can use you.
He can and He will.
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