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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Sin and Salvation in Storybook Land: Belling the Cat"

August 26, 2004

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All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Once there was a dangerous cat who constantly attacked a group of mice. Eventually the mice decided to summon a council where they could discuss the problem. A young, self-assured mouse came forward with a brilliant idea. He said, “Let’s put a bell around the cat’s neck. Then whenever he comes near us, we will hear the bell and be able to escape in plenty of time.”

The mice nodded their approval. “A wonderful plan, brilliantly conceived. It’s bound to work,” they cried. “Shall we select a silver bell, a gold bell, or a brass bell? What color ribbon should we use to fasten the bell around the cat’s neck?” Enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds.

At length, a very old, wise mouse spoke. “Wait a moment! I want to ask one question: Who is going to put the bell on the cat’s neck?” Complete silence. Several mice nervously cleared their throats. A few shuffled their feet. No one stepped forward to volunteer, least of all the young, self-assured mouse. The elder mouse said, “That shows it’s not enough just to talk about something unless you can also do something about it.”

Despite what we learned from Peter Rabbit about our rebellion against God, we somehow think we can come up with a brilliant plan to atone for our failures. But can we? We talk a great deal about how our lives will change. We make New Year’s resolutions. But how often do we back up our talk with actions? How often we sit at church for hours in meetings and make plans for evangelism, education, and service! Often we believe our task accomplished because we have talked about our responsibilities. As Proverbs says, “Mere talk leads only to poverty.”

And so this story shows the futility of our attempts to justify ourselves before God. We need to turn to God’s Son Jesus Christ. He alone can save us.

PRAYER: Dear Father, forgive us for empty talk. Turn us to Your saving action in Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988 CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: 2 Chronicles 1-3    1 Corinthians 16

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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