LITTLE BY LITTLE
“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.” Exodus 23:29, 30
God had delivered His people out of their Egyptian bondage and eventually brought them back to the land that was promised to Abraham. He protected them and led them along, and drove out their enemies before them. Interestingly, God would not have the occupation of the land be accomplished suddenly. It would be done gradually, little by little. This is not the way we would prefer that things be done, but it is most often the way God wants it done. God made it clear to Moses that they had neither the number nor the might to maintain the land if they inherited it at once. They needed to increase, that they might be able to occupy the land successfully.
This rule of occupation aptly describes the way things sometimes progress in our lives. Recent generations have been characterized by many as “instant” generations. Innovation has changed the way we live and has reduced the time for many common things. We can be anywhere in our country in only a few hours. We send e-mail correspondence to friends in other countries in a matter of seconds. A microwave oven can heat a meal in a couple of minutes. Digital cameras can produce instant images, without the need for processing. However, if you desire to use the old-fashioned way, you can still have your film developed in less than an hour. Packages can be delivered, almost anywhere, overnight. We are not accustomed to waiting or exercising patience. There are some things, however, that will never be instantaneous. No matter how many generations come and go, “by little and little” will always describe the pace of things like the building of character and spiritual maturity.
It takes time to develop character, and it takes time to produce maturity in the life of a believer. It is realized “by little and little.” Little decisions, little steps, little lessons, and little acts of obedience are the things that will eventually be recognized as maturity. God wants us to learn to be patient and persistent. We should not expect overnight maturity and godliness, but we should be pleased with consistent and noticeable progress. Little by little, with God’s help, we will see the victory.