As we dive into our third week of studying the book of Luke we find ourselves looking at one of my very favorite Bible concepts. We’re jumping into chapter 3, and not only has John the Baptist been born at this point, but we find him out doing that loud and boisterous style of ministry he’s so known for doing.
Luke 3:7-8 When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
It’s all good, but the part of that I really want to focus on is the start of verse 8. “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Man, do people dislike verses like these. WE’RE NOT SAVED BY WORKS WE’RE SAVED BY FAITH they shout, and they’re 100% right.
Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
The Bible clearly states that salvation comes not by anything we do, but by believing in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. BUT. That doesn’t make John the Baptist wrong. He’s not changing the criteria for salvation, he’s pointing out that our actions should be proof of our repentance and transformed lives.
America is a nation that claims to be Christian. A poll done in 2017 found that 77% of American adults say they are Christian. That’s their words. Their words say Jesus, but do their lives? Because ultimately words aren’t where the power lies. I can say anything. I can tell you I’m madly in love with you while having hatred for you in my heart. That confession of love will be proved true or false based upon my actions, not my words. We live in a society where people will say anything to your face and then walk around the corner and immediately say and do the opposite.
It’s funny that this has become a bit of a recurring theme here in the study of Luke, because I think God’s really wanting us to get this truth. Claiming Christianity isn’t nearly enough. Those are words. Claiming to follow Jesus means nothing. Following Jesus means everything.
Okay, so maybe you’re asking yourself a question. What gave John the Baptist the right to judge the people, and what business of it is mine to worry about if people are following up on their words with actions. JUDGE NOT LESS THEE BE JUDGED, right? Let’s debunk that overly misused scripture real quickly.
Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Read verse five. First handle your own issues and then you will be in a position to deal with your friend’s issues. This verse was never meant to tell us not to call one another out when it’s needed. It’s a warning that we better be in the proper position in our own lives before we do it, because when you open that door it goes both ways. If I’m struggling with lust and I try to sit down someone who I see that’s dealing with lust, guess what, I messed up. The Bible tells me to get my issues straight first, THEN help my friend with his. And that’s an important distinction. It doesn’t say for us to then judge our friend. It doesn’t say to kick them out of the church, or to gossip about their issue. It says then we’ll be in a position to help them deal with it. In love, not in judgment. Because we care, because we want to see people live that abundant life Jesus promised them.
Matthew 7:17-20 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
That’s Jesus talking there, saying that a person’s actions identify them.
I’ve got people in my life who call me out when it looks like I’m struggling. Sometimes they’re wrong, most times they’re right. It hurts a bit when they do it, there’s a momentary sting, but then there’s relief and repentance and recovery. And after the moment in time has passed, I’m always thankful that people love me enough to tell me when my fruit’s not looking too good. Because I’m called to be a bountiful and blessed tree for Jesus. Every piece of fruit brings glory to God, so the last thing I want to do is go around dead or with moldy, diseased fruit.
How we act doesn’t save us. Jesus saves us. How we act reflects where we’re at with Jesus, how closely with him we’re walking. It’s our evidence of a life truly committed to Jesus, and I promise you, the world and people around you desperately need to see that evidence right now. They need more than just your Jesus words, they need to see your Jesus deeds. That’s what will draw them in.
I love all of you very much. I’m excited about this week, and very excited about all the beautiful truths that God is showing us in this study of the book of Luke. I hope all of you are doing good and that this Monday is off to a good start for you. If you have any prayer requests or just want to talk about faith, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.