Attending to the smallest details can make the biggest difference. What seems insignificant often turns out to be very significant. This is especially true when it comes to serving others. Paying attention to little things is huge. Failing to pay attention to them is huge also. Going the second mile when serving others is a sure way to show someone you really care.
There are many great stories in the Bible about the power of doing small things well. Jesus emphasized this in His teaching ministry. He also demonstrated it with His life.
Take a look at what Jesus said about second mile service:
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” — Matthew 5:41 (NIV)
These words made a lot of sense to Jesus’ disciples. During their day, Israel was occupied by the Romans. According to the law of the land, any civilian could be conscripted at any moment to carry the backpack of a Roman soldier — no questions asked, no push back allowed. The same law set a restriction on the soldier and the civilian. One mile was the legal limit. Citizens were required to carry the load for one mile, and one mile only.
Then Jesus came along and told His disciples to go beyond the first mile and carry the soldier’s equipment another mile. They were supposed to double up and do more than the required. Why? Because the second mile set them apart from the crowd and earned them an opportunity to influence the soldier being served for the Kingdom of God. The second mile was the mile that made the difference! It was the mile that mattered. A little extra would bring a big dividend for God’s Kingdom.
Jesus reminded us of the link between the quality of someone’s character and the way they handle the little things of life:
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much … — Luke 16:10 (NKJV)
… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things … ‘ — Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
According to Jesus, a key test of character is how someone handles what seems to be small and insignificant. If someone is not faithful with the small stuff, they certainly can’t be counted on for the big stuff. If they don’t do well with the little bit of responsibility or resources they’ve been given, they shouldn’t be given more. The opposite is also true. When you find someone who sweats the small stuff, you’ve found someone that can be promoted. You’ve found a “second mile person.”
Jesus sweated the small stuff. Take a look at His example:
… so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. — John 13:4, 5 (NIV)
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He shared a meal with His disciples. The custom for such a meal was for someone to volunteer to wash everyone’s feet. All the disciples understood this. They knew that someone should’ve been washing feet, but none of them volunteered. They all conveniently ignored the responsibility. This was “small stuff” to them. This was insignificant. No one would notice the feet that hadn’t been washed. No big deal!
But it was a big deal. Jesus noticed. Jesus saw what the others ignored. Jesus did what the others refused to do. Jesus addressed the “little” detail of dirty feet. What the disciples passed off as an unnecessary obligation, Jesus embraced as a great opportunity. Here we see the huge difference in the quality of Jesus’ character and the character level of His disciples. They still had a lot to learn!
How about you? Do you sweat the details? Are you a conscientious servant? Do you go the second mile? Are you faithful in little things? Do you handle small responsibilities and resources well? Are you a “foot washer?”
God blesses folks who choose to sweat the details!