Aesop’s Fables have been told and retold since mid-fifth century B.C. Believe it or not, Aesop was a real person—he was a Greek slave who compiled and wrote stories as a means of teaching moral lessons.
One of Aesop’s enduring fables tells the story of a man and wife who owned a goose that laid one golden egg every day. But they convinced themselves the goose wasn’t making them rich quickly enough. So, they decided to kill their moneymaker in order to open up the goose and get their hands on the treasure trove inside. However, when they cut open the goose, they were aghast: it looked like any other goose and there was no gold to be found.
Now they were much worse off than before because they killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
In today’s reading, we’re going to take a closer look at a very important goose: You!
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Genesis 48:5. By “adopting” Ephraim and Manasseh as full sons, Jacob was promising them equal portions of his inheritance, along with their father Joseph and his other sons. The Bible Background Commentary further explains that, “In one sense this adoption could be seen as the means by which Joseph is given the double portion of the inheritance due to the firstborn, since two of his sons receive shares from Jacob’s inheritance.”
Genesis 48:12-19. This scene is reminiscent of Jacob and Esau receiving their father Isaac’s blessing. In fact, Jacob is continuing a pattern in the family of the younger brother receiving a blessing over the older brother: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over his brothers, and now Ephraim over Manasseh.
Matthew 15:29-39. Initially reading this, I said to myself, This is déjà vu all over again! Yes and no. It resembles the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in Matthew 14:13-21. But this time, Jesus was ministering to Gentiles in Gentile territory. And how did the people respond? “They praised the God of Israel” (verse 31). Remember: Jews didn’t consort with Gentiles, who were considered “defiled.” Although he focused on reaching Israel, Jesus also planted seeds in the hearts of the Gentiles, which later bore fruit after Pentecost.
Matthew 16:1. This is a pretty astounding request. Jesus has already begun a healing ministry to both Jews and Gentiles—and the religious leaders demanded a sign to prove his legitimacy. The signs were all around them! Jesus wasn’t going to work a miracle just to prove himself. He worked miracles because he had compassion for people.
Psalm 20. The psalm was sung before going into battle. This would be a good psalm to meditate on before entering into a difficult conversation or meeting.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
I’ve run across this verse a number of times, but I’ve never taken a close look at it…until now.
First, the New American Commentary points out that “‘Heart,’ here as always, refers not to the physical organ but to the mind and even the whole personality of the individual.” I’ve always assumed the heart referred to my emotions or my walk with God. But if the heart refers to the whole personality of the individual, it means taking care of the whole person. In fact, the Hebrews avoided slicing and dicing the human person into different parts, unlike the Greeks.
But what does it mean to guard? Does it mean to protect it?
After a little research, I discovered that the Hebrew word for “guard” also means to watch or care for it. Better yet, to tend to it.
So Solomon is advising us to tend to ourselves or take care of ourselves—body, mind, and spirit. We need to take care of the goose that lays the golden egg.
Rather than tell you what to do, I think this is a great opportunity to begin the conversation. See below…
- What do you do to take care of yourself—your whole self?
- In your experience, do people take good care of themselves? Why or why not?
- How does taking good care of ourselves relate to our walk with God? Is it an act of worship? Why or why not?
- How did God speak to you in today’s reading?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.