Bible Reading of the Day: Read 1 Peter 4:1-5, 19.

Verse of the Day: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:7, NIV).

John walked with his friends, Andy and Todd, to the pond.

“Don’t walk so fast,” John complained. “I can’t keep up.” He had to work harder than his friends because his left foot was in a cast. The cast was removable-John could take it off when he took a shower, for example-but the doctor had given him stern instructions not to swim or play sports until the toe he had broken last week was fully healed. Otherwise, the doctor had informed him, the toe would not heal properly and would probably require surgery.

As they got closer to the pond, Andy and Todd’s strides grew longer, and John fell behind. When he reached the pond, he noticed that his friends had left their towels, shoes, and shirts on the bank and were already in the water.

“Come on in, John,” Todd called. “The water’s great!”

“Yeah,” said Andy. “Come on!” He pitched forward under the water.

“I can’t,” John answered. “You guys know what the doctor said.”

“Oh, a little water’s not going to hurt anything,” Andy said, splashing water in John’s direction.

The day was hot, and John knew that the water would feel so good. But he shook his head. “I don’t want to have to have an operation,” he said.

“You won’t,” Todd said. “It’s just a toe.”

“Yeah, don’t be such a wimp,” Andy said.

John looked at the gleaming water. The little pond had never looked so clean and inviting. And swimming wasn’t too different from taking a bath, was it? he reasoned within himself.

John shook his head again. “I’d get in trouble if I went swimming,” he said. “My parents would kill me.”

Andy looked from one side of the pond to the other. “I don’t see your parents,” he said sarcastically. “Do you?”

John hesitated just a moment before he sat down on the bank and started carefully removing his cast. As he did, he seemed to be arguing with his conscience. “I know I shouldn’t do this,” he whispered. “I’m gonna be sorry.”

TO DISCUSS: Do you think John’s friends showed concern or lack of concern for him? Why? Do your friends ever entice you to join them in wrong or harmful behaviors? Do they act “very surprised” that you won’t? Do they ever “say evil things about you” when you refuse to participate in their actions as the Bible reading mentions? What does today’s Bible reading say is a proper response when such things happen?

TO PRAY: “Help us, Lord, to have the proper response when friends ‘say evil things’ about us. Help us also to follow your way, even if no one else does.”