Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings
We must not condemn others as graceless and godless, because they do not see the whole truth at once, and only reach decided Christianity by slow degrees. The Holy Spirit always leads believers to the same foundation truths, and into the same highway to heaven. In these there is invariable uniformity. But the Holy Spirit does not always lead believers through the same experience, or at the same rate of speed. In this there is much diversity in His operations.
He that says conversion is a needless thing, and that an unconverted man may be saved, is undoubtedly under a strange delusion. But he that says that no one is converted except he becomes a full-blown and established Christian in a single day, is no less under a delusion. Let us not judge others rashly and hastily. Let us believe that a man's beginnings in religion may be very small, and yet his latter end may greatly increase. Has a man real grace? Has he within him the genuine work of the Spirit? This is the grand question. If he has, we may safely hope that his grace will grow, and we should deal with him gently, and bear with him charitably, though at present he may be a mere babe in spiritual attainments. The life in a helpless infant is as real and true a thing as the life in a full-grown man--the difference is only one of degree. "Who has despised the day of small things?" (Zech. 4:10.) The very Christian who begins his religion with a timid night-visit, and an ignorant inquiry, may stand forward alone one day, and confess Christ boldly in the full light of the sun.
-J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Commentary on John 19:38-42