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119

XXXII

THE SUPREME TEST

“Faithful in that which is least.”—Luke xvi. 10.

WE make a great mistake if we regard this faithfulness in that which is least as an elementary attainment. It is not a sort of first standard qualification fitting a novice for the second standard. It is the honourable passing of a severe ordeal. It is, I think, probable that character is more surely revealed, and most certainly impoverished or enriched, in which seem to be the little occasions of life than in those which seem to be great. It is likely that the real test comes not in the crisis of some single crashing event, but in the long-drawn-out process of wearisome and smaller events. The big sensation is not as revealing as the little irritation. The surgical operation, coming and going in an hour, is not as trying as pinpricks continued through a year. Who has 120not known people who could call out reserves and triumphantly encounter what other folks called a crisis, but who lost themselves in such trifling things as the loss of a shilling or a dollar? Gulliver could face a giant with equanimity; the dwarfs of Lilliput put him in bonds. There are multitudes of women who put on strength and majesty like a robe when they go forth to meet calamity, but “servant troubles” knock them to pieces! They can face an occasional encounter with wild oxen, but mice play havoc with them. They command the crisis, but they fall before the commonplace.

“He is greatest in his own classroom!” That was the testimony given by an eminently qualified student concerning one of the greatest and most powerful men of our time. He was a giant on small occasions. He revealed himself at his mightiest, not when he faced vast assemblies and received the homage of tumultuous applause, but when he was out of sight, when the crowd was away, and no reporter was linking him with the wider world. It is an index of rare wealth of character, and the test is specially pertinent 121to all who claim to be followers of Christ. Is the power of our spiritual current evident in commonplace tasks? Does it tingle even in apparent trifles? Are there flavours of the King’s gardens in our passing courtesies? Is there about us the fragrance of the Kingdom when we are out of sight? Is the King’s superscription on the penny as well as on the pound? Is it stamped on our unrehearsed conversation as clearly as on our prepared and conventional speech? Is it sealed on the secret thought as well as on the public deed? Are we faithful “in that which is least”?

And so I think that the folk who are faithful in that which is least wear very radiant crowns. They are the people who are great in little tasks. They are scrupulous in the rutty roads of drudgery. They are the folk who, when they are trudging “through the valley of Baca make it a well.” They quietly continue on the dutiful road even when hornets are buzzing around. They win their triumphs amid small irritations. They are as loyal when they are wearing aprons in the kitchen as if they wore purple and fine linen in the visible presence of the 122King. They finish the obscurest bit of work as though it were to be displayed before an assembled heaven by Him who is Lord of Light and Glory. Great souls are these who are faithful in that which is least!

Our Lord Jesus lived for thirty years amid the little happenings of the little town of Nazareth. Little villages spell out their stories in small events. And He, the young Prince of Glory, was in the carpenter’s shop. He moved amid humdrum tasks, and petty cares, and village gossip, and trifling trade, and He was faithful in that which is least. He wore His crown on other than state occasions. It was never off His brow.

And if these smaller things in life afford such riches of opportunity for the finest loyalty, all our lives are wonderfully wealthy in possibility and promise. “The daily round, the common task, should furnish all we ought to ask.” Even though our house is furnished with commonplaces it can be the home of the Lord all the days of our life.

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