Today’s passage reminds me of a story from an anonymous author. A little boy named Peter is visiting his grandparents’ farm. Peter has a slingshot and plays with it in the forest every day but always misses his mark. One day as he approaches the house for dinner he sees his grandma’s pet duck and cannot resist trying to hit it with his slingshot. He accidentally kills the duck and is so sad and scared he hides the body in the forest. His sister Sammy sees everything but does not say a word. When Grandma asks Sammy to help with the dishes she says, “Peter told me he wants to help” and then whispers to Peter, “Remember the duck?” Later Grandpa asks the kids if they want to go fishing. Grandma says Sammy needs to help cook but Sally says, “I can go; Peter told me he wants to help” and again whispers, “Remember the duck?”
Finally Peter cannot hold his guilt in any longer. He confesses his actions to Grandma. She replies, “I saw everything; I forgive you because I love you. I have been wondering how long you would let Sammy use your guilt to control you.”
Like Peter, we have a choice: to suffer in the guilt of our mistakes and allow those who recognize our struggle to take advantage of it or to follow not the advice of those with their own motives but rather the path that leads to happiness—the path that meditates on God’s word. Sometimes this means confessing actions we would rather ignore or forget. But like Grandma, the Lord is ready to forgive us. Psalm 1 assures us God watches over our path when we seek to live righteously in pursuit of the Lord. The choice is ours.
Lord, help us to follow the path of righteousness as we seek to delight in you. Guide us so that we may flourish. Amen.
Proverbs describes the noble wife and sets a standard that can seem impossible. This woman is capable and respected but also generous and wise. She serves but is not weak. Is she a “superwoman,” and do all women need to be “superwomen”? No, she is noble because she follows the counsel of the psalmist and is deeply rooted in the teachings of God. Therefore, she sets a standard for everyone to emulate, not just women. James, another teacher of wisdom, encourages believers to show these same characteristics by following the wisdom given by God. In Mark the disciples display a lack of wisdom by arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that greatness in God’s eyes comes through service, not through seeking recognition.
• Read Proverbs 31:10-31. How have societal expectations shaped your life? How do you allow them to shape the ways you interact with others?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you had to choose between wickedness and righteousness? What influenced your choice?
• Read James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a. You can choose the way you react to conflict. How can facing your internal struggles help you deal with external conflict?
• Read Mark 9:30-37. With what are you too preoccupied? How do your personal worries constrain your perspective?
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