John the Baptist was holding a revival in the wilderness. Crowds of people were coming to him to be baptized. John warned them, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8a NIV). The people who responded were sensitive to his message. They also wanted to make sure they didn’t fit into the category, “brood of vipers”. So they asked John this question, “What should we do then?” (Luke 3:10a NIV). Here is John’s answer.
“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same. “ (Luke 3:11b NIV). If you have extra, share with those in need. He told the tax collectors, “Don’t collect anymore than you are required to.” (Luke 3:13a NIV). Tax collectors in the 1st century had a reputation for collecting too much money and pocketing the extra for themselves. John knew they had a job to do. Taxes are necessary, but don’t take advantage of people. He gives the same answer to soldiers, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14b NIV). Roman soldiers could easily cross the line and earn extra money by extorting it from others. Notice what he doesn’t say. John doesn’t say, “Now, you are a believer. You must not be a soldier. Those two are incompatible.” Generally, there have been a segment of believers who say a Christian must be a pacifist. That is not the answer John gives.
So what does all that mean for us today? What should we do? First, notice that John is direct. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He isn’t long winded. He gives direct answers. He gets straight to the point. I like that in the preaching and teaching that I hear, don’t you? Let’s be like John. Be clear and get to the point. Second, he answers people’s questions. Give to the poor. Do your job. Don’t take advantage of others. Those answers are still applicable today. Share what you have. Whatever your job is, do it and do it well. Don’t take advantage of others. Treat them with respect. That is the Christian thing to do. Let’s give those right answers to others. But before that, let’s be people who live those right answers. Let’s be known as people who give freely to others. Let’s be known as people who do their job extremely well. Be people who treat others with respect. People should know we are Christians by our giving, by how well we do our job, and by how well we treat others. How about you? What are you doing?
written by: Jimmy Hodges
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