An old folktale from Africa offers a fanciful explanation for why the thumb stands apart from the other four fingers on the human hand.
It seems that one day the five fingers were lying on a table together, when they noticed a fine gold ring across the table.
"Hey," one of the fingers said, "let's take it!"
"Yeah," said the ring finger, "that sure would look good on me."
They started to reach for the ring when the thumb protested. "Wait a minute, you can't do that," the thumb said.
"Why not?" the fingers shouted, almost in unison.
"Because it would be wrong."
"Oh, come on," said one of the fingers. "No one will see us." "It would be stealing," insisted the thumb. "You're nothing but a goody-goody," said the index finger. "Yeah, you're a party pooper!" added the pinkie.
"Yeah, if you're going to be that way," added another finger, "you can't be a part of our group!"
"Right!" said the other fingers. "Go away! We don't need you anymore."
So the four fingers went off in their own little group and left the thumb standing alone. They thought he would give in and join them in what they wanted to do, but to this day the thumb has stood alone and refused to do what was wrong.
That's what God wants us to do when others try to get us to do something wrong. It may not be easy to stand alone, but it's better to resist our friends than to disappoint God.
REFLECT: Have you ever acted like the fingers and tried to get a friend to do something wrong with you? Have you ever felt like the thumb in that story? What did you do? How is today's Bible reading like the story of the thumb and four fingers? How can you be more like the thumb the next time someone tempts you to do something wrong?
ACT: Keep your thumb with you all day long today (!) to remind you of the importance of standing against people who want you to do wrong.
PRAY: "God, it's hard to do the right thing when everyone's tempting me to do wrong. Please help me to be strong the next time someone tempts me to do wrong, even if I have to stand alone."