Something is Better than Nothing

📅 October 24, 2020

Naomi knew the truth. [Ruth 2:16.]

So did the widow. [Mark 12: 42; Luke 21:2]  

If you don’t have a lot, a little makes a big difference.

I refer to the handfuls of purpose Naomi told Ruth they would find…and to which they had a right…in the fields of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, and to the two mites the widow cast into the treasury.

In Naomi’s case, she was the recipient, benefitting from the kindness of Boaz; indeed, the obedience of Boaz to provide for the poor and thus fulfill the law in Leviticus 23:22. When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.

In the unnamed widow’s case, she was the giver. Her gift was so commendable, the incident is recorded twice in the Scripture.

In this present day, “small acts” such as these do not receive much attention or notice.

Our access to information makes it possible for us to know all the details of a athlete’s lucrative contract, how much an actor gets per episode of a popular show, how large and opulent are the mansions of tycoons.

“Big” and “more” are the operative words of the day.

Perhaps they have always been the operative words in every generation.

Consider the parable Jesus told of the rich man who fretted over needing more storage space for his great possessions. Luke 12: 18 “I will tear down my barns and build greater.”

And soon, here will come January and all the accompanying ads about weight loss and exorbitantly priced exercise equipment. And people will buy in, and on the first day of January, they will exercise great restraint and rigorous discipline by not eating this or that and then hop on the enormous and unsightly gadget (black, metallic, and taking up so much room) and run and sweat and strain, and by February or March, the gadget will sit quiet, when the effort is deemed “too much” or put off till “tomorrow.”

Our busy schedules—full of good tasks and noble enterprises—can leave little time for what we feel is truly important and joyful. We wish we could spend more time with our families, read more, donate more time or money to worthy causes, but the golden hours remain always beyond reach. That special day we dream of and plan gets waylaid for any one of a hundred good reasons and twice as many bad ones.

We need to stop waiting for the ideal and start living with the real.

At the beginning of each semester, when I was still teaching in a classroom, I gave the usual and obligatory admonitions on the first day of class: how consistency pays off, how each grade is important, that “you don’t have to be brilliant to pass; just plan your work and work your plan.”

And I always ended the address with this:

Never underestimate the power of fifteen minutes.

Don’t wait for the longed-for block of time which is never coming.

Don’t plan to “spend a whole day studying” [or whatever activity you would like to substitute for that word]

If you have fifteen minutes before your next class, open your book and go over a few terms, read a few lines, look up a word.

If you need to start exercising, then take a walk or ride a bike to the end of your block. Legs hurt? Repeat every day. Before you know it, your legs won’t hurt and you can increase the distance.

Something is better than nothing.

In my particular case, the writing journey, it is advised to write a thousand words a day. Think of that as 10 one hundred word paragraphs.

For a plodder like me, who labors over a specific word or turn of phrase…well, let’s just say, I’ve been writing seriously (that is, actually working at it in an organized and disciplined fashion) for ten years, and I’ve never even come close to reaching that goal. If I write two 100-word paragraphs, it is noteworthy, and I will stare at the page in disbelief.

To date: I’ve fifteen-minuted myself through four novels (roughly 100,000 words each).  

Only once in ten years have I spent an entire afternoon writing. Since there was only one, I remember it well.

The handfuls of purpose were not like the golden sheaves, stacked up, bountiful, a display of wealth and success. The two mites did not glitter or clink when they dropped down on the pile of more impressive coins. Perhaps the little widow dropped them in as she rushed by, head ducked, hoping nobody would scoff.

Whatever it is you are wishing you could do or give or accomplish, take fifteen minutes today and do something toward that goal.

No time to invite a friend to lunch? Send a text and say, “I’m thinking about you today. Thanks for being my friend.”  

Wish you could do something about the suffering in the world? Feeling powerless to help? Donate money to your local rescue mission for Thanksgiving dinner. Closer than we think.

Something is better than nothing.

The handfuls and mites all put together make for great riches, which will spill over from your life to someone else’s.

That little widow never dreamed anyone…much less Jesus…noticed what she did, and that all these hundreds of years later, we would still be talking about her, inspired to follow her example.


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association