When John the Baptist went preaching in the Judean wilderness (Luke 3), he taught the people to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. This is another way of saying: let your penitent heart show itself in the things done. To claim that being a descendent of Abraham was not good enough, John made it clear that God expects more than they were giving (Luke 3:8); they needed to show by the life lived their hearts were changed.
To be a son of Abraham was significant to the Israelite people; this was a claim of special relationship to God. John knew of this importance, but he impressed on the people that one's relation to God is related to the heart, not physical birth. There is no right of passage based upon who your parent is (or are).
If fruit is not borne, then the axe will be laid at the root and the produce will be cut off and burned. This is a Bearing Good Fruit graphic illustration that conveys well the picture the Holy Spirit wants us to see. When the people asked John what that meant, he explained (Luke 3:10-14). Note the brevity of his words and the comprehensive application to them. Share with the needy, live by high moral ethics in business transactions, live by the golden rule, and be content with your station in life.
Each one of these need elaboration.
Those who are in need. Paul said the Christian is to do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith. When John spoke these exhortations to those listening, he brought to their recall the obligations the Lord placed upon the people called Israelites. One's circumstance in life may be the result of many things, but when we see a need, let us address it and relieve the stress, in part, of that person's life.
High moral ethics in business transactions. Our society is not so depraved that we need this message more than the previous generations. Whenever money is involved many people seem to adopt a different approach. Some Christians assert that simply because it is "business" that that somehow relieves them, not of ethics, but responsibility toward their brother. These will be sadly mistaken. Christians are to be the standard of high moral ethics in business all the time and everywhere.
Live by the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is much easier said than done. Husbands, do you love your wife? How do you show that? Wives, do you love your husbands? How do you show that? Many relationships would be repaired if this were followed. Marriages, family relations, and neighborly relations would all be better if people lived by the golden rule. Too simple? Try it and see if it does not work.
Contentment. In such a rich country like the one we live in, "keeping up with the Joneses" may not be our motto, but we sure seem to desire to keep up with someone. Training ourselves to be content with what we have is useful because then we train ourselves to be good stewards of that which the Lord blesses us with. Don't mistake this for saying we should not enjoy the pleasures of life, but let us enjoy the pleasures of contentment . Then the pleasures of life become more pleasurable.
By Ron Thomas
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