Tremendous Trifles

Sunday, October 6, 1996
| Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Moral failure comes not from enormous misdeeds, but through lapses in
"tremendous trifles."

Have you ever tried quickly to pull a dangling thread from the hem of a pant-leg or skirt or jacket, only to find you've got hold of one of those dreaded running stitches? Instead of breaking off, the thread continues to unstitch itself until the entire hem falls out. Instead of freeing yourself from one annoying little thread, you now have a major clothing catastrophe.

It is always the little things that end up getting us in the biggest trouble. G. K. Chesterton referred to these as "tremendous trifles." Life, Chesterton observed, does not usually present us with big temptations or grandiose sins. Instead, we constantly encounter little temptations that can easily slip under the threshold of our levels of acceptance and tolerance. These little, apparently insignificant temptations nibble away at us--gradually compromising our integrity with each tiny bite.

Human moral failure does not usually come from enormous, glaring misdeeds-- things like murdering, stealing or cheating on a...

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