Ether One


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Bible Reading: Leviticus 19:13-16

Always judge your neighbors fairly, neither favoring the poor nor showing deference to the rich.   Leviticus 19:15

IF YOU’VE EVER been to the dentist to have a cavity filled or a tooth pulled, you’ve probably been given an anesthetic (that’s just a big word for something that numbs pain). The dentist gives you a swab or a shot of something so that when he or she starts poking around in your mouth with picks and drills and other tools of torture, you don’t scratch his or her eyeballs out.

The first anesthetic to be used safely was a gas called ether. In 1842 a doctor in Georgia used ether to put a patient to sleep during an operation. Three years later he also used ether to deliver a baby. But by the time he wrote about the things he had done, credit for the discovery of ether had already gone to William Morton, a dentist who lived in Massachusetts.

However, when the Massachusetts Historical Society wanted to put up a memorial to honor the man who had discovered ether, many people claimed that another man—Charles Jackson—was the real discoverer. This led to an argument about which name should be on the memorial: William Morton or Charles Jackson?

It was then that a famous doctor named Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. suggested a humorous solution. He said both names should be inscribed on the memorial with the inscription “To Ether.” That way the memorial could honor either man!

That seemed to be a fair solution to the problem. It not only brought honor to William Morton and Charles Jackson, it also made Holmes more famous than he already was, because it showed him to be a fair and wise man. (It’s not surprising that Holmes’s son became a famous Supreme Court justice!)

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was applauded because he was fair. And fairness is good. That’s why God commands us to be fair. We should treat other people as fairly as we can. We should look for fair solutions to problems. We should remember that fairness is right and unfairness is wrong. We please God when we obey his command to treat each other fairly.

REFLECT: Today’s Bible reading mentions at least eight ways to be fair to others; how many can you find? Do you like to be treated fairly? Why or why not? Do you treat others the way you like to be treated? Are you obeying God’s commands to treat others fairly? If there is anyone you haven’t been treating fairly, can you think of a way to correct or change your behavior?

ACT: Be alert for ways you can be fair (or encourage others to be fair) to everyone you meet today.

PRAY: “Lord God, help me to keep alert for ways to be fair to others. Remind me to treat others the way I want to be treated.”


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