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“Grandpa, Alice says I’m in trouble because I got some flowers for Mama,” Sammy said. He looked sadly at the bright daffodils he held.

Grandpa closed his Bible and looked up at his grandchildren.

“But Mom said he wasn’t supposed to go outside until his work was finished,” Alice said. “He still has to set the table.”

Grandpa smiled at them and said, “You remind me of a story. I’ll call it—

To Do Good or to Do Evil?

(From Luke 6:6-11)

There was once a Jewish man who lived in a town in Galilee, whom I will call James. We don’t know all the history of his life, but one thing is certain—it wasn’t easy. James had a withered hand. Maybe it had been injured while he worked, or maybe he was born that way. Whatever the case, he couldn’t use it and had to go about his work using only one hand. He couldn’t hold a nail he wanted to pound. He couldn’t toss his little boy in the air. James was crippled, and he couldn’t do anything about it.

Now every Sabbath James would go to the synagogue to worship God. On the Sabbath day he wasn’t supposed to do any work. Instead he would listen to the scribes and Pharisees teaching about how to keep the law and please God. One Sabbath a visitor stood up to speak. James had heard of this man, I am sure. His name was Jesus and He had power to heal.

“Watch out! His power is from the devil,” a scribe muttered. “I have heard that He breaks the law. How can someone please God who works on the Sabbath day?” James wasn’t so sure, but he wanted to be healed. He needed two good hands like any other man.

Suddenly the newcomer looked straight at James. He had the kindest eyes James had ever seen. “Rise up and stand out here in the middle,” Jesus said. James could feel everyone staring at him, but he stood up. Jesus looked over to where the scribes and Pharisees stood frowning. “I will ask you one thing,” he said. “Does it break the law to do good on the Sabbath day, or to do evil?” James could see their faces, hard and cold. He knew that they didn’t believe in Jesus’ power. But this man cared.

“Stretch out your hand!” Jesus said, His eyes flashing. James obeyed. In awe and delight he stared at his hand. Were those strong brown fingers his own? Yes, indeed! He felt power surge through his hand and he looked up with a grin. But there were only two eyes that shared his joy. The angry faces and evil looks of the Pharisees and scribes made him shiver. They were not pleased that his hand was well. Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and to them that was a crime. Who was right?

“Why did they think Jesus shouldn’t heal people on the Sabbath?” Alice asked, with a puzzled face.

“Why did you think that Sammy shouldn’t pick flowers for Mother?” Grandpa replied.

“Because he wasn’t supposed to,” said Alice. Grandpa didn’t say anything. Finally she said slowly, “Isn’t he supposed to obey what Mom said?”

“Is is right to do good or to do evil?” Grandpa asked with a smile.

“To do good!” Sammy said quickly. “Wasn’t picking the flowers doing good, Grandpa? I was going to set the table and I just thought that Mama likes flowers, so I got them for her.”

Grandpa looked at Alice, who was hanging her head. “What do you think, my little law-keeper?” he asked, giving her braid a gentle tug. “Was Sammy pleasing Mother by what he did, or was he not?”

“I didn’t think of it quite like that before,” Alice said. “I’m sorry, Sammy. I guess you were doing good, even though it didn’t seem like it.”

“It’s okay,” Sammy said, smiling. “I didn’t stay outside more than a minute ’cause I wanted to get the table set before Mother came back.”

“Well, I guess you better finish up the good work,” said Grandpa. “I’m glad to see you have a willing attitude. That is what pleases God most.”