"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."
- Zechariah 4:10 NLT
Several years ago, I read a true story about the humble beginnings of one of the most famous composers of all time. It told of how this composer rose to greatness, and ended up touching countless lives, by simply preparing music for the Sunday services at his church each week. At the time that I read this amazing story, I was feeling very discouraged and disheartened in my work for the Lord. Reading about this man's devotion and dedication inspired me and encouraged my heart. I had been laboring in the Lord's name for many years, and had received little recognition or reward. I often asked myself questions like, "Where are the blessings? Where are my rewards?" I eventually discovered that the thing that helped me most was to shift my focus from, "What's in it for me?" to "How can I help others?"
The Bible clearly states that God's people will be richly rewarded for loving and serving Him. But it doesn't say WHEN we will be rewarded, or even how. One reason for this is that God doesn't want us focusing on our rewards, but on doing the work He has assigned us to do while we're on this earth. And He expects us to perform our work faithfully. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much." (Luke 16:10 NASB) Before the Lord entrusts us with big assignments, He tests us in smaller ones. Some people aren't interested in doing seemingly insignificant tasks for God. What they don't realize is that God may never allow them to do great things for Him, unless they are first willing to do humble tasks, and to prove themselves trustworthy.
In my case, God had called me to be a prayer intercessor. As I proved myself faithful in this capacity, He led me to begin writing devotionals. As I concentrated on preparing my devotional newsletter each week, the Lord opened a door for my work to be published in book form. As it turned out, I was in ministry many years before I received any monetary reward. Even now, most of my work is done on a strictly volunteer basis. And, frankly, I worry about Christians who have very little interest in serving the Lord without pay. Yes, it's true that the Bible is filled with promises of prosperity and reward for those who love and serve God. But most of the time, we will have to do the right thing for a long time, before we get the right results.
Scripture says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT) When God leads us to start out small in our service for Him, we mustn't look down on our humble beginnings. If you look at the people the Lord used most throughout the centuries, you'll see that even the greatest of these started out small. One of these was the apostle Paul himself. He wrote, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service." (1 Timothy 1:12 NASB) As we prove ourselves faithful in each assignment the Lord gives us, He will reward us with greater opportunities to serve Him. Paul went through some incredibly hard times during his years of ministry, but he fiercely fought against the urge to quit and give up, and he inspired others to do the same. He said, "Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times." (2 Corinthians 4:1 MSG)
One of the promises from God that has kept me going in the toughest of times is Hebrews 6:10 (NIV): "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." The Lord is a just and righteous God, and He is committed to seeing that His people are rewarded and recognized for their work and devotion to Him. As one godly man put it, "The rewards for doing right are sometimes delayed, but they are guaranteed by God Himself." I still get discouraged in my work for the Lord sometimes, but now when I do, I just focus on the little things, helping one person at a time. If you are struggling with "small beginnings" today, I pray that this precious promise from God will be an encouragement to you--"Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be"! (Job 8:7 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for looking down on some of the work You've assigned to me in the past. Help me to shift my focus from myself to You and others. Thank You that as I prove myself faithful in little things, You will not only promote me, but You'll make me a world-changer for Your glory!
- J. M. Farro