Good Life Journal - Luke 3
“He (John) said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ,16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. (Luke 3:8-18a ESV)
John the Baptist was a pretty straight shooter. He didn’t do the parable stuff that his cousin did. I noticed how he didn’t get much into condemning the crowd but laid out the situation briefly and concisely. I also notice how the list of things that John said to do was remarkably free of the “religious” assignments that he might have given but gave instructions to combat the idols of their heart.
How do I apply the things I read in this Scripture section? It is difficult to pick out one or two verses and isolate it from the rest of context. I admire and am jealous of the concise way that John answers the crowd. It doesn’t read like anything I would say to an unbeliever. When I talk repentance to anyone am I as concise as the Scriptures here? Do I avoid examples? Am I a straight but uncondemning shooter? Do I get “airs” of superiority about being a believer talking to a “sinner?” (See the statement about rocks and children of Abraham). I am positive I do. I flirt with it; sometimes parade it; I think about my superiority in the same tones as the Pharisee “Thank God I am not like this rabble around me” and I do not meditate on what I cost my Lord and beat my chest “Be merciful to me a sinner.” Somehow the translation from sinner to believer will have not only water baptism but Holy Spirt baptism involved--Really?
Father—I think that one of my greatest struggles is the Sinner/Pharisee fight. I know that I am a sinner, saved by Grace, and that I need a Savior (You) every day. I also know that I am tempted to parade being a spiritual guy all the time. Please make me find the “sweet spot” in serving you—that place where I serve You with gladness of heart, doing the things that please and honor You, and to be discontent with being merely moral. Make me fiercely transparent with my confession.