John the Baptist’s message in Luke 3 speaks volumes. There is a version of Christianity that is all knowledge and little action, all smoke and no substance. If I am not careful I could be like that… posting thoughts on scripture, preaching sermons, counseling folks, etc. All that can be done and done convincingly with just a little bit of knowledge. Real repentance has significant action behind it as John demonstrates to those who ask him what they should do (Luke 3:10).
Someone can go through the motions and be “clean” (like baptism here) but their heart can be “wicked.” The pharisees lined up with everyone else to be baptized (See Luke 3:7 and Matthew 3:7). Out of everyone there, they had the longest list of deeds that they could point to in order to certify their righteousness. They made a religion out of being “righteous.” They even added extra rules for righteousness. Yet, the one thing that separated their deeds from the fruit of repentance was their heart.
If we are to honor God in our repentance it is important that the followup to the big spiritual highs take place. Repentance may start for a man at an alter at the end of a service, but it will show up in his life long after that in how he deals with his wife, children, computer, driving habits, etc.
Later in Luke we will read the parable of the prodigal son. The older brother has always fascinated me because he is obedient, but we are left with the impression that he misses the party. Real repentance begins in the heart, or it may begin with the action if your heart isn’t there yet… but in the end it encompasses both a right motive and right deeds.
I’m praying that my identity is so swept up in Christ today that I forget what other motives might be out there and live with a heart that beats purely for God.
FATHER, Thank you for the gift of your Word. As I reflect to day on the message of John the Baptist I ask that we would be those who continually live a life of repentance and change. I thank you that we don’t bare this burden alone, but the Holy Spirit guides our steps and helps us all along the way. Thank you for the grace of studying and sharing your word. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN
What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.