Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

12/13/15 - Honest, Kind and Hardworking

“Honest, Kind and Hardworking”

Luke 3:7-18

 

Previously on the “Today Show” there was a brief segment regarding which values parents teach their children most. Honesty was at the top at 43%, followed by kindness at 29% and a strong work ethic was third with 11%. This survey lines up directly with our Scripture of John the Baptist’s preaching in today’s New Testament passage.

We are still in the time of Advent, where we are preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. Today’s Scripture is the second half of John the Baptist’s role in getting the people around him ready to meet the Messiah. Last week Luke introduced us to John the Baptist and we were told how he fit in historically with the world wide leaders of his day. Luke described John the Baptist as one who was “calling in the desert, preparing the way for the Lord.” Today, Luke continues his narrative with John the Baptist giving both a dramatic description of the end times and a not so dramatic response to the crowd’s question,

“What should we do?”

The contrast between the two is striking.

We have the crowd asking, The tax collectors asking, and Some soldiers asking, “What should we do?”

Directly after John has just called them all “A brood of vipers!” and told them to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

They don’t seem to understand their part in the coming of Messiah, or why they have to produce some sort of fruit, hence the question, “What should we do?”

Not much has changed in 2000 years. There are still times for me, when I ask God, “What should I do?”

If you remember from our study of the book of Mark, the crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers are expecting a Messiah who is going to free them from the tyranny of the rulers.

If that was their mindset, then it would make sense that they would be confused as to what role they could have in assisting the Messiah. Each person asking the question was Jewish, and they understood themselves to be the “chosen people”, the descendants of Abraham. That alone was supposed to get them “in”. Yet, John’s response was strikingly sharp. He states that if God wanted to, He could raise children of Abraham from the rocks they were standing upon. And then John gave this picture of God with an axe, ready to chop down any tree that was not producing the correct kind of fruit.

That statement definitely gets their attention, because they immediately respond with, “Just tell us what to do.”

This is where you would think John would have come up with a more religious, pious answer, instead he basically states they are to:

Be honest – “Don’t collect any more than you are required to.”

Be Kind – “The person with two tunics should share with one who has none, and the one with food should do the same.”

Be Hardworking – “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.”

Think about it. John was telling the crowd, tax collectors and soldiers, basically all the things we should have learned in kindergarten are the things we are to do to show we have produced the “fruit in keeping with repentance.” These are the things that will allow us to avoid judgment and enter paradise? Seems too simple, there must be more to it.

Well there is more. These actions in and of themselves are merely nice things when we do them for ourselves. But when we look at them in the light of the coming of Christ, then they manage to affect every dimension of our lives, including how we deal with each other, and how we treat the world around us.

John brings us back to the idea we read about in Mark, of what God’s kingdom actually looks like. The idea of a monarchy coming to take over and rule the world with power and might is about as far away from the actual truth as you can get. As Christians, we are asked to usher in God’s kingdom, here and now, and John was trying to explain just how that is to be done.

John was asking them and us to actually live like heaven is here, like we believe it is coming, more importantly, like we think it really matters.

It is through the simple acts of sharing what we have, being honest with each other, being honest in how we work and not lording it over others, that we are actually ushering in God’s kingdom, here and now.

The kingdom is not going to appear after heroic deeds and grand actions have been accomplished. The kingdom of God is going to be revealed when his children choose to live like they believe it exists and are committed to acting like one who lives in the kingdom should act, by being honest, kind and hardworking.

Now you may be tempted to think, that everyday actions such as honesty, kindness and hardworking are not that big a deal, let me ask you this:

What would it look like if those running for political office acted this way?

What about those we have already elected?

And after this week’s news, what if all of those in law enforcement held true to these three simple attributes?

Step back and consider, how could the world of impatience, immaturity and fear be affected, if those who believed that God’s kingdom is here right now, and acted on their belief that honesty, kindness and hard work can make a difference.

In wake of the attacks we have heard about in France and California, people are changing how they live, forgetting who they are, because of fear. That’s when the terrorists win.

What if, in turn, we focus on what John the Baptist has given us, and reach out instead of in.

Looking to not only meet our own needs, but reaching out to meet the needs of others.

When I look at what our small congregation has already accomplished, I am encouraged. I belief that as a congregation, we have been honest, kind and hard working.

Look at the tri-fold where we are involved.

It is my prayer that we keep it up. That we not grow weary. It is my desire that our actions would be demonstrations of our convictions and that like John stated in verse 6, “and that all flesh shall see the salvation of God”.

According to John and Jesus, there are no small gestures, but rather hard working, random and intentional acts of kindness and honesty, which in and of themselves are insignificant, but with faith in Jesus, produce good news, grace, mercy and redemption.

What better time, than two weeks before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, should we remind ourselves, that it is by being honest, kind and hardworking, that we can truly usher in the salvation of humankind, through Jesus Christ our Lord and experience a glimpse of heaven.

Let’s pray.