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A WORD FOR TODAY, February 23, 2023
“Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin. The sin, when it is full grown, produces death. Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” James 1:13-18 (ASV)
There is a story about a city mouse and a country mouse. One day the country mouse invited her friend from the city to visit her home in the country. The city mouse was excited about the adventure, so he traveled the long distance from his house to her house. When he arrived, he found that his friend led a very simple life. She had invited some of her country friends over for tea and to meet her friend. She was proud of the good food she served, but the city mouse did not eat it. He told the group, “In the city I eat spice cake and drink wine.”
The city mouse was quite bored in the country, so he invited his friend to visit his home. She quickly agreed, wanting to see what it was like to live in the exciting city and to eat such extravagant food. When they arrived at the city mouse’s home, the first thing they did was go into the pantry. There, on a low shelf, was a bag of brown sugar. The city mouse chewed a hole in the bag and they nibbled on sugar. The country mouse agreed that this was the most delicious thing she’d ever eaten. Suddenly the cook came into the pantry. The city mouse said, “Run!” and the two friends ran into the mouse’s hole. The country mouse was shaking, frightened by the danger. But soon the city mouse said, “That was the cook, but she is gone now. Let’s go. I have something even better to show you.”
This time they were on a high shelf where there was a tin of dried fruit with a loose lid. The city mouse tipped off the lid and offered his friend a piece of fruit. The country mouse agreed that this was the most delicious food she had ever eaten. Suddenly they heard a scratching at the door. The country mouse said, “Run!” and the two friends ran into the mouse’s hole. The country mouse was even more frightened. Soon the city mouse said, “That was the cat, but he is gone. Let’s go. I have something even better to show you. They went into the cellar where there were piles of cheese wheels, strings of smoked meats and pounds of fresh butter. The country mouse was amazed and ran from one thing to another trying every different kind of food. Then she saw the most delectable piece of cheese on a piece of wood. Just as she reached for the piece, the city mouse yelled, “Stop!” He told her that it was a trap and that it would kill her if she touched it. The country mouse was so frightened she said good-bye to her friend and ran all the way home. When her friends in the country asked her about her visit she said, “I would rather lead a simple life in peace, than to dine on riches and live in fear.”
The city mouse wanted an exciting and rich life but lived with the fear and danger that existed around him all the time. He could not enjoy the fruits of his labor, but rather had to always keep alert and run away the moment there was danger. He might feast on delicious food, but his life was overshadowed by the fear of death and loss.
Our fears are different than that of the mice. We aren’t worried that the cook will hit us with a broom, that the cat will eat us, or that we’ll get caught in a mouse trap. We are worried about traps of another kind. Our desires for good things cause us to pay for things on credit and then we worry if we will be able to pay. We have to keep expensive security systems on our homes to keep the criminals out and we are constantly watching our backs for those who would cheat us out of our money.
The country mouse was content with her simple life, appreciating every good thing as a gift. So, too, we are called to live that simple life, to praise God for every blessing and have no fear of loss and death. In Christ we have a promise that goes beyond all that this world has to offer. We might enjoy rich food and grand surroundings, but such things will never bring us the kind of joy that we will know in Christ. As a matter of fact, our search to satisfy our desires will actually bring us to destruction as we get caught up in the traps of life which lead us toward sin. I would rather lead a simple life in Christ than to have all the wealth in the world. In the latter we live in fear, but in the former we have true peace.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org