Little Details Have Big Impact

Judges 13:4, 13 “Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing…Let the woman pay attention to all that I said.

The angel gave two points of very clear instruction. Be careful. And pay attention. Generally speaking, those are two phrases that are not very popular in this day and age. As a generation we have allowed ourselves to become increasingly distracted. We might not all struggle with an attention deficit syndrome but we certainly act like it. Blame it on Sesame Street if you want. Blame it on You Tube. But the reality is that our attention span has grown smaller and smaller with each passing year. Forget the interview. Give me the sound bite. Forget the story. Give me the headline. If you can’t make it fit into 180 characters or less, we’re just not interested.

The problem with such an approach to life is that details are important. And many times it’s the seemingly most insignificant ones that can have the greatest impact. One blown fuse can shut down your whole house. Broken fuel gauge? Hope you have reliable roadside assistance. One match can burn down an entire forest. Little details can have big impact. Hence, the need to be careful, to pay attention. We could all avoid a lot of unnecessary headache and heartache if we would just slow down, learn to listen, and make it a point to remember what we heard.

This is particularly true in spiritual matters. Far too often we are careless in our approach to God’s Word. We read from some distorted sense of obligation but we aren’t really paying attention. You know what I mean. The whole 3 chapters a day, read the Bible through in a year thing. We finish our designated daily reading, mark off the box on our spiritual checklist, and go on about our daily business no better for the 10 minute investment. But hey, we are reading the Bible. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it? Or does it? Every other arena in life has taught me that merely glancing at the instruction manual doesn’t really help. Not long-term. Not where it really counts. How much I read means little if I don’t read the right way. Follow?

The angel informed Manoah’s wife that it was very important that she pay attention to the details. His words were not simply helpful hints and suggestions. This wasn’t an advice column from Ann Landers. His words were a direct message. From God. To her. Specifically. Selective hearing was not going to be sufficient in this regard. Her son had a divine calling that would actually go into effect while he was still in the womb. She needed to be very careful to follow the instructions. She need to make certain she was paying attention to what she was hearing. Her choices and actions were going to have tremendous influence. Seemingly minor decisions were going to have major impact.

It’s really no different for us. The Bible is a divine message. From God. To us. Specifically. If we regard it as some sort of philosophical approach to life, we are completely missing the point. It isn’t a Tony Robbins self-help book. We don’t get to pick and choose. Selective obedience isn’t an option. Selective hearing will not be an excuse. God means what He says. Every last word. It falls to us to be careful in how we handle His Word. It falls to us to pay attention to the details when we read His Word.

For years I have counseled people to move from simply “reading” His Word to actually “studying” His Word. The difference between the two is immense. We read for information. We study for transformation. Reading is about completing an item on a checklist. Studying takes the material from the page and engrafts it upon our soul. His Word becomes a part of us. Yes, it will involve a greater commitment of your time. Yes, it will require more effort on your part. But the resulting influence cannot be overstated. Paying attention and being careful in your approach to God’s Word will change your life. Literally. How do I know? Because it changed mine. For years I read the Bible. I grew during those years. Slowly. But when I began studying His Word my growth became exponential. Habits began to fall by the wayside. Real lasting change began to embrace my life. Little details do indeed have big impact. Just a little more diligence with respect to his Word will make all the difference in your life. Stop being in such a rush. Slow down. Make time. Be careful. And pay attention. You’ll never regret it.