When Israel went into the land of Canaan, they conquered the land by little and little. God could have killed all the inhabitants in a day, but the land would have been overrun by beasts. After four and a half years, Israel had conquered enough land that they could distribute the inheritance among the tribes. However, after this initial distribution, Israel quit conquering the land by little and little. See Jud 1:19, 1:21, 1:27-34. When they stopped fighting by little and little, they started losing. According to Deut 19:7-10, and Jos 1:3-4, God intended to enlarge their coast. He did not intend for them to stagnate.
Likewise, as you and I grow as Christians, there are things that we must do by little and little. You can’t do them all at once. And God doesn’t intend for you to do them all at once. Here are some things best done by little and little.
Learning the Bible – Is 28:9-10 – the Bible is best learned by reading a little of it each day. You learn it line upon line. An older friend of mine, who has been saved about six months, is reading daily. He said that he could have never stopped some of the sins in his life if it hadn’t been for daily reading the Bible and following what it says. I recently recommended to a couple that they read one Proverb, one Psalm and five pages of the Bible everyday. Their son is one year old. By the time they will start teaching him the Bible at home [Deut 6:6-7], they will have read through the Bible four times, through Psalms eight times and through Proverbs forty-eight times. When you have young children, you can’t just go to the Bible one day when it’s time to start teaching them. You must start reading and learning now by little and little.
Overcoming sin – Rom 6:19 – when you commit iniquity, one sin leads to another. Paul called this “iniquity unto iniquity.” Likewise, when you start dealing with sin in your life, one right thing leads to another. Paul called this “righteousness unto holiness.” You overcome sin in your life by little and little. In 2 Cor 7:1, you cleanse yourself from filthiness of the flesh and spirit by confessing your sins so that God can cleanse you [1 Jn 1:9]. Pulling weeds in the flower beds is a good illustration. If you aren’t in there regularly, the weeds grow and you don’t even notice them. When you do finally see them, they are big and there are many, many smaller ones that you don’t see until you start pulling weeds. The task can be overwhelming. It’s better to keep the beds clean of weeds by checking them regularly and keeping them clean.
Giving tithes and offerings – Neh 10:35-37 – tithes are given first. Notice the first of the flock, the first of the herd, the first fruits of the field, and so forth. You give the tithe first. Otherwise, you’ll be inclined to keep some of the better things for yourself. Or you’ll use them for other things beside the tithe. In 1 Cor 16:2, the collection for the saints was done on the first day of every week. There’s no way that the Corinthians could have given as much as they did if they had only one offering when Paul arrived. You can do much more by giving by little and little than you can by trying to give all at once. We couldn’t write one check each year for our missions offerings and give nearly what we do by giving a little each week. If we waited until we had enough to write one check, we would certainly have spent it on something else. A person who starts by giving $20 per week to missions is able to give over $1,000 to missions in a year. Imagine, ten families giving this amount by little and little each week. That’s enough to support more than eight new missionary families at $100 per month or four new missionary families at $200 per month. By little and little you can do a lot. You’ll also find that your little will increase each year over time.
Witnessing – Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19 – when the church scattered because of persecution, they continued to preach the gospel everywhere they went. They just kept preaching through the country by little and little until everyone had heard the gospel. Similarly, if you are faithful to keep handing out tracts here and there you eventually sow the word to all the people you know and contact. On the ships, we have seen thousands upon thousands of Bibles distributed world-wide by simply giving a few out each week faithfully for over seven years. Today at lunch, the fellow busing tables came by, lamenting that he wasn’t able to go to church today. He said, “Man, I really need God in my life right now.” I handed him a tract and told him he could have God in his life right now.
Making changes – Eph 4:22-24 – sometimes your life gets so messed up that you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mess you’ve made. It’s like you’re facing a mountain of problems. You cannot move that mountain all at once. Therefore, treat it like a pyramid. Move it one stone at a time by little and little and you will eventually move the whole thing. Put off even one thing of the old man today and put on just one new thing of the new man today. When you have this new way of doing things established, then put off another thing of the old man and put on another thing of the new man. By little and little you will completely change.
Conclusion: most of what we do in our Christians lives is best done by little and little. And take a lesson from Israel when they had conquered Canaan. Keep doing those things by little and little. Don’t quit like Israel did or you will find yourself in a mess bigger than you can clean up.