How often do you go out of your way to say “Hi” to someone? How often do you go out of your way to ask someone “How are you doing?” and stick around long enough to hear the answer? How often are you letting people know they matter and are valued? How often are you available to listen to someone speak and share what is going on in their lives? How often are you reaching out to bring comfort or encouragement into a situation? Do you realize it may mean looking away from your phone and having a conversation? Do you realize it may mean more than just typing and actually using your voice? Do you realize it may mean doing something differently because of age differences, culture differences, etc.? Not a mechanical type of approach but do you realize the impact that a personal touch can have on the lives of the people around you?
Today’s reading starts in Leviticus 13. Imagine what it would feel like if you ended up being one of these people and how you might respond.
‘The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If anyone has a swelling or a rash or discolored skin that might develop into a serious skin disease, that person must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons. The priest will examine the affected area of the skin. If the hair in the affected area has turned white and the problem appears to be more than skin-deep, it is a serious skin disease, and the priest who examines it must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. “But if the affected area of the skin is only a white discoloration and does not appear to be more than skin-deep, and if the hair on the spot has not turned white, the priest will quarantine the person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest will make another examination. If he finds the affected area has not changed and the problem has not spread on the skin, the priest will quarantine the person for seven more days. On the seventh day the priest will make another examination. If he finds the affected area has faded and has not spread, the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. It was only a rash. The person’s clothing must be washed, and the person will be ceremonially clean. But if the rash continues to spread after the person has been examined by the priest and has been pronounced clean, the infected person must return to be examined again. If the priest finds that the rash has spread, he must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, for it is indeed a skin disease. “Anyone who develops a serious skin disease must go to the priest for an examination. If the priest finds a white swelling on the skin, and some hair on the spot has turned white, and there is an open sore in the affected area, it is a chronic skin disease, and the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. In such cases the person need not be quarantined, for it is obvious that the skin is defiled by the disease. “Now suppose the disease has spread all over the person’s skin, covering the body from head to foot. When the priest examines the infected person and finds that the disease covers the entire body, he will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. Since the skin has turned completely white, the person is clean. But if any open sores appear, the infected person will be pronounced ceremonially unclean. The priest must make this pronouncement as soon as he sees an open sore, since open sores indicate the presence of a skin disease. However, if the open sores heal and turn white like the rest of the skin, the person must return to the priest for another examination. If the affected areas have indeed turned white, the priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean by declaring, ‘You are clean!’ “If anyone has a boil on the skin that has started to heal, but a white swelling or a reddish white spot develops in its place, that person must go to the priest to be examined. If the priest examines it and finds it to be more than skin-deep, and if the hair in the affected area has turned white, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. The boil has become a serious skin disease. But if the priest finds no white hair on the affected area and the problem appears to be no more than skin-deep and has faded, the priest must quarantine the person for seven days. If during that time the affected area spreads on the skin, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, because it is a serious disease. But if the area grows no larger and does not spread, it is merely the scar from the boil, and the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. “If anyone has suffered a burn on the skin and the burned area changes color, becoming either reddish white or shiny white, the priest must examine it. If he finds that the hair in the affected area has turned white and the problem appears to be more than skin-deep, a skin disease has broken out in the burn. The priest must then pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, for it is clearly a serious skin disease. But if the priest finds no white hair on the affected area and the problem appears to be no more than skin-deep and has faded, the priest must quarantine the infected person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest must examine the person again. If the affected area has spread on the skin, the priest must pronounce that person ceremonially unclean, for it is clearly a serious skin disease. But if the affected area has not changed or spread on the skin and has faded, it is simply a swelling from the burn. The priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean, for it is only the scar from the burn. “If anyone, either a man or woman, has a sore on the head or chin, the priest must examine it. If he finds it is more than skin-deep and has fine yellow hair on it, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. It is a scabby sore of the head or chin. If the priest examines the scabby sore and finds that it is only skin-deep but there is no black hair on it, he must quarantine the person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest must examine the sore again. If he finds that the scabby sore has not spread, and there is no yellow hair on it, and it appears to be only skin-deep, the person must shave off all hair except the hair on the affected area. Then the priest must quarantine the person for another seven days. On the seventh day he will examine the sore again. If it has not spread and appears to be no more than skin-deep, the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. The person’s clothing must be washed, and the person will be ceremonially clean. But if the scabby sore begins to spread after the person is pronounced clean, the priest must do another examination. If he finds that the sore has spread, the priest does not need to look for yellow hair. The infected person is ceremonially unclean. But if the color of the scabby sore does not change and black hair has grown on it, it has healed. The priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean. “If anyone, either a man or woman, has shiny white patches on the skin, the priest must examine the affected area. If he finds that the shiny patches are only pale white, this is a harmless skin rash, and the person is ceremonially clean. “If a man loses his hair and his head becomes bald, he is still ceremonially clean. And if he loses hair on his forehead, he simply has a bald forehead; he is still clean. However, if a reddish white sore appears on the bald area on top of his head or on his forehead, this is a skin disease. The priest must examine him, and if he finds swelling around the reddish white sore anywhere on the man’s head and it looks like a skin disease, the man is indeed infected with a skin disease and is unclean. The priest must pronounce him ceremonially unclean because of the sore on his head. “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp. “
Now suppose mildew contaminates some woolen or linen clothing, woolen or linen fabric, the hide of an animal, or anything made of leather. If the contaminated area in the clothing, the animal hide, the fabric, or the leather article has turned greenish or reddish, it is contaminated with mildew and must be shown to the priest. After examining the affected spot, the priest will put the article in quarantine for seven days. On the seventh day the priest must inspect it again. If the contaminated area has spread, the clothing or fabric or leather is clearly contaminated by a serious mildew and is ceremonially unclean. The priest must burn the item—the clothing, the woolen or linen fabric, or piece of leather—for it has been contaminated by a serious mildew. It must be completely destroyed by fire. “But if the priest examines it and finds that the contaminated area has not spread in the clothing, the fabric, or the leather, the priest will order the object to be washed and then quarantined for seven more days. Then the priest must examine the object again. If he finds that the contaminated area has not changed color after being washed, even if it did not spread, the object is defiled. It must be completely burned up, whether the contaminated spot is on the inside or outside. But if the priest examines it and finds that the contaminated area has faded after being washed, he must cut the spot from the clothing, the fabric, or the leather. If the spot later reappears on the clothing, the fabric, or the leather article, the mildew is clearly spreading, and the contaminated object must be burned up. But if the spot disappears from the clothing, the fabric, or the leather article after it has been washed, it must be washed again; then it will be ceremonially clean. “These are the instructions for dealing with mildew that contaminates woolen or linen clothing or fabric or anything made of leather. This is how the priest will determine whether these items are ceremonially clean or unclean.”’—Leviticus 13
Today’s reading next brings us words of wisdom through Proverbs starting in Proverbs 6.
‘My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger— if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said— follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net. Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars, signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers. Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble. But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing. There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you. For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life. It will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman. Don’t lust for her beauty. Don’t let her coy glances seduce you. For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life. Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished. Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving. But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole, even if he has to sell everything in his house. But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased. For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation, nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.’—Proverbs 6
Today’s reading then continues into Proverbs 7.
‘Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands. Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family. Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman, from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman. While I was at the window of my house, looking through the curtain, I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense. He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house. It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell. The woman approached him, seductively dressed and sly of heart. She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home. She is often in the streets and markets, soliciting at every corner. She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, “I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows. You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are! My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning. Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses, for my husband is not home. He’s away on a long trip. He has taken a wallet full of money with him and won’t return until later this month. ” So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life. So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path. For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death.’—Proverbs 7
Today’s reading next brings us into the New Testament in Mark 10.
‘As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”’—Mark 10:17-34
Today’s reading continues into 1 Corinthians 16.
‘Now about our brother Apollos—I urged him to visit you with the other believers, but he was not willing to go right now. He will see you later when he has the opportunity. Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. I am very glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus have come here. They have been providing the help you weren’t here to give me. They have been a wonderful encouragement to me, as they have been to you. You must show your appreciation to all who serve so well.
The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings. All the brothers and sisters here send greetings to you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul . If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.’—1 Corinthians 16:12-24
As we close today’s reading let us meditate on all that God has spoken through His Word. Let us take a moment to receive the wisdom and direction.
Let’s read today’s conclusion to our daily reading with Psalms 79.
‘O God, pagan nations have conquered your land, your special possession. They have defiled your holy Temple and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins. They have left the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of heaven. The flesh of your godly ones has become food for the wild animals. Blood has flowed like water all around Jerusalem; no one is left to bury the dead. We are mocked by our neighbors, an object of scorn and derision to those around us. O Lord , how long will you be angry with us? Forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you— on kingdoms that do not call upon your name. For they have devoured your people Israel, making the land a desolate wilderness. Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors! Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name. Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff, asking, “Where is their God?” Show us your vengeance against the nations, for they have spilled the blood of your servants. Listen to the moaning of the prisoners. Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die. O Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times for the scorn they have hurled at you. Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.’—Psalms 79