Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Power of an Iota

An iota is a tiny little bit. I learned the word "iota" in Mrs. Brummel's 4th grade class, many years ago. I liked it instantly. I liked the way it is spelled, the way it sounded, the way it looked on paper. And, probably more than anything, I liked the way its spelling and pronunciation and presentation all fit together in my mind in such a way that it somehow represented its definition.

What I did not learn in the 4th grade is that iota is also the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding more or less to the letter "i" in English. It is written as just a little line, the smallest letter of the alphabet. Matthew 5:18 speaks of the iota: "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will be any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." That is why we use the word iota, in the English language, even today.

Matthew 13:31-33 brings me back to that picture in my head of iota:

"He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.' He told them still another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

mustard seeds, magnifiedLike an iota, a mustard seed is a tiny little bit, about the size of the dot on an "i" typed on the spine of a small book here on my desk. It looks incredibly insignificant. Yet this tiny little seed has within it the potential to develop a big tree which creates habitat and shade, and produces many more seeds for many more trees. Similarly, just a little bit of yeast in a big ball of dough brings about great growth throughout, transforming the whole loaf.

Imagine introducing into our world just a little bit more -- an iota -- of the perfect life and relationships God intends for us to experience. Think about how you have seen even just an iota of that kind of life -- a genuine smile, a well-timed phone call, a gentle response to anger, help with a difficult task -- make a difference in your own experiences. Think your iota of love won't make a difference? Think again. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, the iota of the seeds, which by the power of God multiplies in amazing ways!

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