Do you ever feel insignificant? I’m about to tell you about a little city that seemed small, but it was big enough to attract the attention of a great king.
I’ll also tell you about a poor man. Nobody cared about him until his little city was in danger. Still, after saving the city, no one respected him.
Today, I want to tell you you’re significant: You matter.
The world will tell you otherwise. People want to push you down so they can feel superior. Regardless of what’s happening, don’t fall into their trap. I want you to realize how important you are.
God created you in His likeness. He formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), He loves you so much; He sent Jesus to die for you, to save you (Romans 5:8). He numbers the hairs of your head. He plans great things for you (Jeremiah 29:11).
You are important!
In scripture, you can find many examples of seemingly insignificant people whom God used in a big way. Moses, Gideon, David, and so many others became military and spiritual giants, despite the odds that were against them.
Right now, I want to talk to you about an account given in the book of Ecclesiastes that teaches valuable lessons that can change your life.
In chapter nine of that book, we see that:
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:
Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor manEcclesiastes 9:14-15
I want to draw your attention first to the
The Little City.
This was a small city in terms of geographical area. It had a small population. People there probably thought they didn’t matter to anyone outside their walls. I think the people liked their city as it was.
Being “little”, the people there could go about their work without worrying about someone attacking them. No one has a reason to attack them. Right?
You might think that no one has a reason to attack you.
Not so much!
Apparently, this little city was unaware that their way of life could be destroyed at any moment.
Whether you are small or just feel small, you need to
Recognize your enemy.
Never think you’re so unimportant that you don’t matter to someone else. Just because someone may have labeled you as “little” doesn’t mean you don’t have enemies.
Maybe the little city was afraid to take sides. Some people don’t want any part of controversy.
If you’re on God’s side, your very existence offends the world. The world has no knowledge of the holy. If you’ve received the New Birth, the world wants to take everything you have.
You’re asking too much if you want to go through life without adversaries.
I think it’s interesting that the enemy came against this city with
Look what happened: This was a small city, and a great king came against it.
Why would a great king bother such a little city? Perhaps the king was a bully on a power trip. As long as someone was outside his domain, he couldn’t rest. He wasn’t content unless he controlled everyone.
In a way, that sounds like our world.
Big or small, your enemies will hunt you down and destroy you, unless you bow to political correctness and what they describe as “social justice.”
But, God wants you to
Prepare to resist.
The world has rules about where to go, what to do, what to wear and when you do things. If you don’t conform, they’ll arrest you. They’ll levy fines on you. They’ll seize your property.
Recently, we’ve discovered that some people, in America, will try to harm or kill you, just because you aren’t like them.
Although I want you to prepare yourself to be attacked, I don’t want you to give fear the upper hand.
God wants you to stand your ground. Don’t give in.
Be not conformed to this world…Romans 12:2
I want you to take some time today to
Recognize your value.
What if the little city had let their guard down because they didn’t believe that they were valuable?
What if the city had precious resources but didn’t recognize their value?
Perhaps the city became too familiar with what they had and, over time, lost respect for it?
I suppose what I am suggesting is that the complacency of the people may have invited this attack on them.
I want you to see if this is true with you.
Consider your family. The spouse that you once cherished, you now take for granted. The children whom you once recognized as a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) are now nuisances.
Like the little city, your complacency might invite an attack.
Regardless of whether you realize it, you are valuable. Greatness lies within you. The Bible says that we are earthen vessels that contain great treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7).
The little city didn’t recognize its worth. Maybe it’s time that you acknowledge your value and the value of the things you have.
Now that I’ve talked about the little city, I want you to notice
The Great King vs the Little City.
The little city had a big adversary.
Perhaps, daily, the city focused on its internal affairs and ignored the “outside” world. Jesus cautions us about how getting caught up in life can make us unaware of danger (Luke 21:34).
Maybe the city didn’t know that a great king and a powerful army were nearby. Possibly, the city underestimated the size and capability of the enemy.
You might have a similar situation. You feel safe. When you interact with the world, perhaps you “go along to get along.” You mistakenly believe you have no reason to worry.
I’m here to tell you you have formidable adversary. Like this great king, Satan is looking for someone to pick on. He wants to devour you when you don’t expect it (1 Peter 5:8).
Apostle Paul understood the necessity of vigilance. He was not ignorant of Satan’s tactics (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan is the god of this world and the prince and power of the air.
If you’ve accepted salvation, you’re in a war. You have strong enemies. Here’s what the scripture says:
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high placesEphesians 6:12
Now is a good time to realize that a powerful force wants to destroy you. Satan and the world want to make an example of you. They want everyone to see you go down in defeat.
The Bible has good advice for you:
Keep thy heart with all diligence…Proverbs 4:23
When you least expect it, a great adversary will come against you. He has more than enough weapons and equipment to conquer you. It’s time to put on your spiritual armour, get your sword in hand, and get ready to defend you, your family, and even your church.
Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.Ephesians 6:13
Next, I want you to think about
The poor man in the little city.
I don’t want to sound cynical, but people naturally try to create a hierarchy with themselves at the top. The battle of the “haves” versus the “have nots” has transcended the millennia and continues to this day.
The world’s standards,
If you don’t live in the “right” subdivision, drive the “right” car, wear the “right” clothes, know the “right” people, take the “right” vacations, and share the “right” beliefs, the “in crowd” will exclude you.
That’s how things were in this little city. Despite its size, the city was divided into at least two classes: The rich and the poor.
As the siege began, I imagine that the city responded the way people do today. The leaders turn first to the supposedly “important” people who are supposed to have the experience and education needed to wage war properly.
As is often the case, in our nation, the people in charge were there because of their social and political connections, not because of their abilities.
Being forced to acknowledge this, I think we see an episode of
Crisis religion in the little city.
Have you ever known someone who didn’t care about God until something bad happened. Then, suddenly, that person tries to pray, goes to church, and seeks counsel from the wise? In the day of trouble, the little city had a similar response:
In desperation, the elites asked the commoners for advice.
One poor man spoke up. He was wise. He had the perfect solution. Thanks to him, the city survived.
The people of the little city
refused to change their ways. After winning the battle, the little city reverted to business as usual. The little city was ungrateful.
They wanted help for winning the battle, but they didn’t want to be holy.
The leaders went back to protecting their status. They wanted to keep the poor man poor. He saved their lives and their way of life, but they felt no debt to him.
They forgot about him. No fanfare. No reward. No memorial to the man who saved them.
Because he was poor. He wasn’t the “right” person to save them.Their crisis religion didn’t cause a change of heart.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.Proverbs 26:11
In addition to noticing the behavior of the people of the little city, I want you to put yourself in the poor wise man’s shoes. I see
Dashed hopes and disappointment.
The poor wise man finally had a chance to shine. He proved his worth. The enemy tested his mettle in the battle and he proved himself valiant, valuable, and worthy of honor.
He thought he finally would be allowed to be part of the “in” crowd. Finally, he’d have the respect he deserves.
I’m speculating. I know. After all, the poor wise man was wise.
But, don’t you think that injustice could frustrate even a wise man?
I can’t help but wonder if the poor wise man regretted saving his city. The ingrates who despised him before despise him now. He got now credit. No reward. No benefits.
Not even a “Thank you.”
God has a clear message for you and me. Do everything for the right reason. Act out of your personal integrity. Save the city because God wants you to do it.
Pure motives result in pure expectations.
Jesus has something to say regarding this. He speaks against those who work to gain standing in the community:
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.Matthew 6:1
People will let you down, but God won’t. Love the praise of God more than the praise of men (John 12:43).
The experience of the little city and the poor wise man give us some
Lessons to Learn.
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes takes a moment to reflect on the little city’s lesson. He said,
Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.Ecclesiastes 9:16
Thousands of years later, human nature hasn’t changed. People in the world and church still despise the poor.
They ignore impressive accomplishments made by the “wrong” people.
During crises, some people look for wisdom. After the poor man saves them, they revert to their old ways.
It happens in your family, on the job, at church, at school, in politics, in government, and in media.
If this has happened to you, I’m speaking to you right now.
I want you to consider
Jesus, our example.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah regarding our Savior:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.Isaiah 53:3
Jesus doesn’t appeal to the flesh; He contradicts the world’s values.
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;1 Corinthians 1:27
How should you
to this story and its interpretation?
First, God wants us to
Respect the poor.
God has “chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (James 2:5). But James rebuked the Church saying, “Ye have despised the poor” (James 2:6)!
Next, I want you to
Understand the world.
Our text exposes how the world behaves. The little city despised the poor man’s wisdom. Thousands of years later, the world operates the same way as it did in Ecclesiastes chapter number 9.
God wants you to transcend the world, through His power. Don’t try to change it. Let Jesus give you a fresh start. Live by God’s terms, not the world’s. If you do, you’ll win every time, regardless of your life’s situation.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Finally, I exhort you to
Apply the lessons of the little city to your life. Remember, you are valuable. You have an enemy. Sometimes, the people who should be on your side treat you disrespectfully.
Learn to depend on God for your strength, wisdom, and value.
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.Nahum 1:7