Your Small Works Make a Difference

It’s not just the plants that go dormant in cold climates; the people do, too. It’s the beginning of spring, and Matt and I just took a one-mile lap around the neighborhood. As we neared our house, the woman next door came out of her garage dressed in work clothes and carrying a large outdoor garbage sack. We greeted one another cheerfully, after a long winter inside of our homes. The iris are poking up their heads out of the snow and so are the neighbors.

“Christy,” she said to me, “I saw you out a few days ago, cleaning out your flower beds, and you inspired me to get out here and clean out mine.”

She saw me. I had no idea I was being watched. Hearing that I had inspired someone else to do something was very moving to me.

This encounter made me think of all of the good things I’ve started doing in my life because of simply observing what someone else did. Like taking more than enough food to a potluck, because that’s what my mom always did. Like pressing in when relationship is hard, because that’s what my friend always did. Like considering all sides in a conflict, because that’s what my husband always does. It’s a long list I can make, of being shaped in good ways by observing the behavior of godly people in my life.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Seems to me that most often we sharpen one another accidentally. Our brother or sister in Christ does something good that we observe, and it sticks in our minds and starts to work its way into our own thinking and behaviors. It wasn’t some planned thing but more of a shoulder-to-shoulder rubbing off of noble behaviors.  

Most of the time we’re just going along in our day, not giving much thought to what we’re doing or how we’re being perceived by others. So, I thought I would pause here and ask two questions:

Have you noticed something in someone that has affected your life in a really good way, helping you think and act more the way God wants you to? You might do like my neighbor did and shout across the street, “Hey, you inspired me!”

Second, when is the last time you examined your own actions and attitudes? This question makes me think of how I act around my grandsons. Am I sharpening them in any way? (I immediately think about my need to put away my phone when they’re here and give them my full attention.) It also makes me think about how I act at work. At the pharmacy, we all work in one big room, so I’m constantly being observed. I spend a lot of time on the phone, and my co-workers notice how I interact with patients. Am I inspiring my co-workers to be kind and understanding and cheerful? I hope so. I really hope so.  

May I encourage you that who you are matters to the people around you? Your life might seem quiet and sometimes like it doesn’t matter much in this big, broken world, but that’s not true. Every little thing you do has the power to sharpen someone else, from the way you talk to the receptionist at the dentist’s office to bending down to pick something up for the girl at Target who just dropped something. And your actions matter even more to the people closer in your circle who see you see every day.

I would love for my family and my co-workers and my friends to have an experience of being sharpened when they’re around me. Wouldn’t you love to be that person? Give it a minute of consideration today.