The devil really is in the details. That is to say, we are mistaken to imagine that we will go out there and do grand things for God, while in the small matters we follow the promptings of sin, the flesh, and the devil. The present moment, which is all we ever have, is the only place of actualization, the only place of obedience.
A case in point is an incident that happened last week at my kitchen table. My daughter had come to visit, and we were having an antipasto. My husband rather drowned his salad with a combo of blue cheese and French dressing, and I remarked, “Do you think you have enough dressing on your salad?”
Later, in private, my husband tenderly confronted me. He suggested that I had made the remark for my daughter’s benefit, to ingratiate myself with her as against my husband. It was a “You are the man” moment for me. Though I wanted to protest that he was being oversensitive and making much ado about nothing, the Spirit convicted me.
It was a small thing, but that is my point: It is the “small” things (they are not so small to God; we will be called to account for every careless word) that add up to the record of a life. We vainly imagine “grand” things when, as a matter of fact, our lives are made up of a string of fairly unsensational choices of speech and action.
My husband continued (with amazing compassion) that my strategy of winning my daughter’s approval can never work. Why? Because God is not in it, and so it can never be blessed. God desires to bless us, he said, but in order to know His blessings we must walk in his pathways of grace.
Back to the kitchen table: God’s desire is that we cover one another’s faults—not in the sense of covering evil deeds that should be exposed and dealt with, but in the sense of being pained that a loved one should be exposed to ridicule unnecessarily. It was for (literally) covering the drunken Noah’s faults (Genesis 9) that sons Shem and Japheth were commended, and for exposing his lapse to ridicule that the third son Ham was punished. And his punishment was so severe it was even visited upon his descendents. How great is God’s antipathy for the heart that throws someone under the bus!
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV).