My husband and I will be married for four years this fall. We married young so we’ve gone through many experiences together: completing our college degrees, starting full-time jobs, and now preparing to purchase our first house.

From the beginning of our marriage, we talked about the importance of being faithful and giving our best to God even when things weren’t ideal. Following that commitment has meant tithing even when money was tight and giving up time together in order to be there for other people. That hasn’t always been easy but we have discovered that right in the middle of our obedience, God “showed up” and blessed us in ways we could never have imagined.

Consequently, Michael and I have adopted a phrase not only for our marriage but for every part of our lives: “Faithful in the little”.

I think that’s one of the big lessons Jesus was teaching in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14. The real problem with the man who was given one talent seemed to be his attitude toward smallness. The master said the exact same thing to the man with five talents and the one with two:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.” (v. 23)

Did you notice how Jesus called the talents given the first two “little things”? It isn’t that these two servants were given so much more than the man with one talent. The difference was that the first two servants saw their talents as “little things” with a lot of potential and so they used what they had.

On the other hand, the servant with the one talent did not see its value and was actually afraid of it. What would the master say if he lost it? The one talent seemed so small it held only fear and dread for him, so he buried it. It was his failure to use the one talent that caused Jesus to say, “You wicked, lazy servant!”

To me, this story gives us insight into how God views our use of the gifts He has given us. No matter how insignificant or small they may seem to us, God expects us to be faithful in using them even—or maybe especially—when no one else is looking.

God is watching, for instance, when we choose to work late at night so we can spend quality time with our children during the day. He sees us choosing to sit and listen to a friend even if it’s inconvenient at the time. God sees us staying late at the office to get the job done, although everyone else is gone.

During the recent rescue efforts in Houston, one of the volunteers picked a small child out of the floodwaters and said, “The only way to get this job done is saving one person at a time.” That seems to be the way things usually get done in God’s kingdom— faithful disciples giving their best to one “little thing” after another. God sees such obedience and blesses our faithfulness beyond all that we imagine.