It’s the same old story told again and again: Success, stardom, then smallville. Hero to zero in 60 months or less. It’s exactly what happened to Samson, and its echo is louder than ever in the current saga of John Edwards (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/us/26edwards.html?_r=1&partne…).
I was commenting to my wife just last Thursday morning, as we were welcoming the day and catching some headlines, how startling it is to watch such a spiraling disintegration. From southern gentleman to Senator to VP/Presidential candidate to … well, the rest goes downhill. And fast. Pretender. Adulterer. Liar. Now thief?
I’m not commenting on his innocence or guilt relating to the most recent charges. I’m simply observing that little things make a big difference. Truly, it’s the small matters, left unattended, that, over the long haul, will turn into monsters that eat you alive. Heroes don’t dive to zeroes overnight; we only find out about it that way. This has been the course for all pseudo-shooting stars since time began. Solomon was correct – there is nothing new under the sun (or the covers).
The cameras don’t show you those small issues; they’re unattractive. And the media won’t tell you about the mundane matters; they’re boring. So they print and write about all your glamour. Your perfection. Your “rightness.” But if you let yourself believe you’re as pretty as the pictures show and as great as the articles say, you’re headed for trouble. One of the biblical writers said it like this: “If you think you’re standing tall, watch out! You’re about to fall.” (paraphrase mine)
That’s why it’s best to have real friends around you, not mere fans. Your friends will tell you the ugly truth so that you will avoid an even uglier future. And they’ll help you do, not deny, the small things that end up making the biggest difference in the end. Like daily prayer when no one is watching. Or regular Bible study even though there’s no message to preach. Or faithful giving when no one is around. Being polite when the camera is off. Consistent exercise after the race is over. Saying ‘no’ to the double scoop even when you’re out of town. Not watching the X-rated pay-per-view movies in the hotel on the business trip. Telling the truth to every question. Giving back the extra change when the clerk has counted it back to you wrongly (even if it’s a penny). Yep, the little things that seem insignificant now can end up being quite important later.
Why? Because they form habits. And habits either make us or break us. Negatively, when sexual lust is a hidden habit, we eventually find a way to act on it. It’s called fornication. Adultery. When financial greed is a hidden habit, we eventually find a way to act on it. It’s called stealing. When anger and resentment is a hidden habit, we eventually find a way to act on it. It’s called revenge. Assault. Murder. These sound unnerving and unsettling. But the whirlwind of evil deeds is usually sown by the wind of evil seeds.
The point? Live today like the little things matter. Because they do.