7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 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.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Our church in the Black Hills had a sister-church relationship with our Native American church on the reservation at Oglala, SD. Every year (until that church was closed) we had the opportunity to go down and help with VBS, perform some maintenance on the church building, and deliver clothing and firewood for the winter. The time was a blessing and any skills and talents that were represented in our group were used by God to help those in need.
Christmas is a good time to think about helping those in need. In our passage, John starts out pretty angry at those coming out to see him. Ultimately, he’s just trying to get through to them. They weren’t living for God and he was calling them to repent and start living the way God wanted them to live. In verse 10 the crowds ask a very important question: “What should we do then?” Yeah, John, what should do then? What does it look like to live the way God wants us to live? John’s answer comes in verses 11 to 14: share what you have with those who have nothing, honor God with your financial dealings, treat people fairly and be content with what God has given you.
When I accepted Jesus, my life changed. It had to – I wasn’t living it for God, just me. The question asked by the crowd is a good one for all of us to consider this Christmas season. Look around you. Do you see people in need? You may not have a lot of extra. In fact, you may not think you have anything to give at all. Do you have two good coats? Someone in need doesn’t even have one. Do you have enough food in your pantry? Someone in need stares at an empty pantry every day. Do you have skills and talents at anything? God can use you to help others in need.
While you are on your knees in prayer today, consider those around you who are less fortunate in any way. Ask God to show you what you have to offer. Can you give an extra coat away? Can you give a few cans of food away? Can you be someone’s family for the holidays this year? Can you spend the time to provide comfort to a person who has lost someone close and might be hurting this Christmas? God can use you to help others – what could you do this Christmas?