7 He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him. 11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He told them, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized.” 14 Some soldiers also questioned him, “What should we do? ” He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” 15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.” 18 Then, along with many other exhortations, he proclaimed good news to the people.
Much of the focus in today’s secular world is on enjoying “the good life” through personal wealth accumulation. We use it to define our success, and we spend much of our time working to increase this wealth in order to make ourselves happy. In the days when Jesus was here on earth, people also focused much of their energy on finding ways to get more money and accumulate more assets. They also lived unrepentant lives, choosing to live on their own terms with limited concern for the needs of others.
In Luke 3:7-18, John the Baptist encountered these people in the crowds who were waiting to be baptized in order to avoid judgment based on God’s righteous anger. He called them a “brood of vipers” and warned them to change their way of life in order to “produce fruit consistent with repentance.” Those in the crowd who were not sincere in their repentance were warned to change their attitudes and not rely on their Jewish lineage through Abraham to protect them from God’s wrath.
When the crowd asked what they should do, John replied with specific instructions. Those who had material blessings were to share them with others who were in need. Tax collectors were told to ask only for what was due them. Soldiers were instructed to avoid attempts to get money from anyone through force or false accusation and to be satisfied with the wage they had been given.
John also told the crowd that One was coming who was more powerful than he—that he was not even worthy to untie the strap of His sandals. As a warning to the crowd to repent and change, John preached that Jesus would judge all men. He would gather the wheat (the true believers) into His barn, and the chaff (the unbelievers and the unrepentant) “He will burn with fire that never goes out.”
These passages in Luke remind us to bear the good fruit that results from a life lived in repentance. We should also always be mindful of the needs of others, sharing the blessing of our wealth with our brothers in need rather than trying to get more for ourselves. If we put Christ at the center of our lives, that means we will prioritize the use of our blessings to serve Him and glorify His name.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- As you think about the many blessings God has given you, how can you better use them to glorify Him and to produce good fruit and blessings for others?
- Is too much of your focus today on holding on to the material blessings He has given you? Are you generous with the money God has given you to help in building His kingdom?
In our family, Christmas time is a great time to help our kids understand the meaning of the phrase, “blessed to be a blessing.” God has blessed each of our families with different talents, resources, and gifts. Take sometime as a family to discover something you as a family can do to show your neighbors, friends, or family who Jesus is to you. Use what God has blessed you with to show the fruit of His presence in your life. This may be by cleaning out toys and giving them to kids in need or buying new toys for a family who won’t have a Christmas without your families help. Maybe your family is musically talented, put on a show or go caroling in your neighborhood and share the message of Jesus through song. Whatever it is that your family has been blessed with, seek and find a way to bless others with what God has given you this Christmas season.
Pray for Daniel and Sandra, global workers from our church family. They disciple others in many contexts, serving primarily in Mexico. Pray for protection, perseverance, and wisdom as they travel between locations, serve, and share.