Luke 3:10-14

During the season of Lent our devotions have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s writer is Doug and Karen Elsen.

And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” Luke 3:10-14

We detect a sense of urgency in the questions put to John and no wonder. He has just issued a stern warning to the crowds that have come to hear him in the wilderness:  the judgment is at hand, “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.” (Matthew 3:10).

It is useless to claim their heritage as “Sons of Abraham,” they must produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

The crowds who have come to hear John include: common people, tax collectors, and soldiers. Where do we find ourselves in this group? And what does it mean to repent?

Clearly, John’s listeners understood that action was required. It was not enough to feel remorse for things they might have done in the past. A different way of living was required if they were to produce good fruit.

So are we among the common people? Those who have enough and maybe a little bit more who must share what we have with those who have less rather than cling to what we have and who we are with a sense of entitlement?

Are we among the tax collectors? Those who are in a position to enrich ourselves at the expense of others with no regard for their needs? Those who must not be greedy and take in as much as we can while we are able for fear the day will come when we will be unable to care for ourselves?

Are we in a position of power and authority like the soldiers who can make life difficult for others or even destroy them with our words and deeds?

Or are we all of them? Blessed with more than we deserve or need, capable of choosing to live with integrity or greed, able to build up or destroy?

John would say to us, “Bear good fruit.” Produce good fruit no matter who you are, where you find yourself, and in what circumstances. Look around you. Assess your blessings, be content with what you have, and share all that you are able.  In this way, we prepare the way of the Lord and make ready for his coming.

Let us pray: Lord, you have blessed us with all we have. Help us to use what you graciously bestow on us to bless others and to point the way to you, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord. Amen.

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