2/23 Luke 3:10

10 And the crowds asked him, "What then shall we do?"

John was preparing people to receive the Messiah, Jesus. They came to him to publicly confess that they were sinners in need of cleansing. When he baptized them he warned them that their actions must show that their heart had changed. They asked what that looked like. John's answer wasn't quite what we might imagine.

You might think he'd tell the tax collectors to get another job, but he simply told them to only collect what was owed and no more. We might expect he'd tell the soldiers to end their career, but instead he told them to not extort money by threatening people and to be content with their wages. The one instruction that might be more of a challenge to us today was for those who had two tunics to give to the person who had none and to share our food. In other words, if you have extra, give to the needy.

A tunic was a garment worn under one's cloak. It was costly in that day, so few people had an extra one. Our closets are full of a variety of clothing, so it is difficult to relate to this command. It was to give even what is costly if someone else needs it as a necessity of daily life. This is to have a heart for one's fellow human and feel another's need as your own. Repentance and transformation causes us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It causes us to be as concerned about his or her needs as we are about our own. We can easily agree with John's instruction to be honest and fair and content with what we have, but giving away what is costly to meet the needs of another person is a challenge for us. This is John's definition of the fruit of repentance.

Prayer: Lord, give me Your heart for others. Help me to hold material things with an open hand, ready to share when I see the need.