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What Just One Can Do

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

A well-traveled, anonymous list poses some lighthearted lessons that we might learn from Noah. Among them: Don't miss the boat; Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark; Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big; Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs; Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

But what is the real lesson as intended by the original author of the story of Noah?

Noah is introduced after a summary of how poorly the young world was progressing. Reviewing his creation, God saw “great wickedness” and people whose “every inclination” was “evil all the time.” It was so bad that God regretted ever creating man; he was ready to wipe out that creation.

But then there was Noah. No details are provided about what he did that was so different from his neighbors. All we have is a simple summary: “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord . . . a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). Noah’s one claim to fame was that, against the tide of his culture, he kept his faith and saved his family – and by extension all the rest of us.

Just by being honorable and good, one man made a difference. That’s a common Bible theme – the power of one person to make a significant difference just by being good. God repeatedly delights in his “remnant” –his faithful few - through whom he works to accomplish his great plans.

You and I can be among that number. If you work responsibly and honestly, it makes a difference. If you are a loving and devoted spouse, it impacts the world. If you provide a safe and caring family for a child, you are shaping the world. When you treat your neighbors well, those you know and those who are strangers to you, it matters. If you go to church and get involved, it really does change things.

It may seem trivial just being a good man or woman, but it’s not. That, I believe, is the lesson of Noah. He found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and that changed the world. In this bright, new year it still will.

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