Luke 3 tells the story of John the Baptist as he began his ministry. His job? Prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 3:4) Many royal rulers and powerful leaders of the land are listed at the beginning of the chapter to set the stage and give us historical context, yet it is a normal guy, born to older parents, in an off-the-map-of-all-places-important rural village that the Lord called to be the forerunner for Jesus. (Doesn’t it encourage you that God uses normal people from ordinary places to shout the fame of Jesus? Me too.)
The Lord spoke to John when he was in the wilderness and told him what to do (Luke 3:2). Then John walked his sandals to the dusty country trails around the Jordan and got himself busy for Jesus. He preached what the Bible calls “a baptism of repentance” for the forgiveness of sins, and he challenged the people of Israel to live lives that produced fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:3,8) His message was two-fold, but simple: turn from sin and turn toward God.
The people wanted John to help them understand. They wanted to know what that should look like in their lives.
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. (Luke 3:10)
That same question was shouted from people of different backgrounds, careers, ages, and responsibilities … from people with different challenges and different experiences. What should we do?
John answered them. And in doing so he painted a picture of what it should look like for every follower of Jesus to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Look at what he said.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
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.” (Luke 3:11-14)
The Bible goes on to say that John spent time with the people, exhorted them, and told them the good news that God had sent him to share. (Luke 3:18) As I consider the illustrations that John used to describe what a fruit-producing life looks like, I reflect. Am I asking God that question? What should I do, Lord?
Thankful for this fresh heart-burden, I decide to summarize what John told the people and apply the principles to my life. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a great starting point. Here are the things that John said we should do in order to be fruit-bearers.
#1. Share – Live out your faith beyond yourself and beyond your stuff. Be generous.
#2. Be honest – Do your job. Don’t take what’s not yours, and tell the truth.
#3. Live with integrity – Don’t do what you shouldn’t do, even if you can, and treat others well.
#4. Be content – Stop reaching and straining for stuff that doesn’t really matter in light of eternity. Be thankful for what you have.
As I look over this list, I wonder. What changes can I make in the way I do things that will produce more fruit? How willing am I to share? Am I honest? Who am I when others aren’t looking? Do my choices honor God? Am I content?
James 2:14-26 says that faith without deeds is dead. I want my life to give evidence of my faith – to shout the fame of Jesus, just like John the Baptist. I want to be a woman who produces fruit in keeping with repentance … fruit that bears evidence of my turning from sin toward God. Yes. Yes. Yes!
So I determine that this list is a great place to start.
Thank You for your Word that is rich with lessons.
Please help me to be a woman who does things that will cause others to see You.
Help me to share, be honest, live with integrity and be content.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE:
If the LORD is impressing on your heart that it is time for you to amp up your sharing, here’s an opportunity for you to do just that. CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can impact the life of a child in poverty in Jesus’ name. (Share a shirt. Share your food. Be the hope. Be the body. Be the beauty.)
Which of these four fruit-bearing principles is tugging on your heart today? WRITE OUT A PRAYER in the comments section of my blog that commits this area to God today.
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Guys, I’m so excited to tell you about this FREE online event that I’m confident you’ll love – The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8, 2017.
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Your sister on the journey,