The seasoned follower of Jesus should be the first to offer his shirt to the needy and a meal to the hungry. The seasoned follower of Jesus should be the model of fair business and ethics. Christian, abandon your platitudes and attitudes and follow Jesus in 2016!
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Isaiah, just as he prophesied the birth of Jesus, prophesied John the Baptist’s advent as the forerunner of the Saviour’s public ministry. John did not subscribe to the view that you attract more flies with honey. He attracted people with fire and brimstone.
He called the crowds a brood of vipers. This approach appeared to work as the crowds flocked to listen to him and be baptized – this baptism was a public commitment to repentance, meaning that the people turned down a different path in life.
To those who claimed Abraham as their righteousness, he clarified that God can produce children of Abraham up from the rocks on the ground. Their religious heritage was meaningless without the fruit of repentance. Which brings me back to you and me.
On the front edge of another year walking the earth, what confidence are you taking into 2016? John would say you have two choices. You can rely on your past and rest on your laurels, or you can move forward with a heart of repentance.
If you are already a follower of God and have been for some time, you, like me, are at risk of complacently lumbering forward with our robes of righteousness and adornments of our past service. Vipers…
The seasoned follower of Jesus should be the first to offer his shirt to the needy and a meal to the hungry. The seasoned follower of Jesus should be the model of fair business practice and ethics. There is no room for scams and angles to line your pockets. Be content with your pay and God’s reward in your life.
Sounds like a clear challenge for the next year. Think we’re up for it?