John the Firebrand – Luke 3:7-9
Scripture reading for this week: Luke 3:1-22
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9)
I don’t think John the Baptist would be well received in today’s culture. In fact, I doubt he’d be invited to preach in many of today’s churches! John was what you’d call a “firebrand” – his sermons stung like a branding iron!
Even so, the results spoke for themselves, as many people repented and got right with God.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between boldly preaching the truth, and being outright antagonistic. The Apostle Paul, not one to hold back on his exhortations, encouraged us to always speak truth, but to do so from a heart of love:
“…speaking the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15)
Yet at the same time, the bible teaches us that to withhold truth from someone who’s heading in the wrong direction is the same as hating them:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” (Leviticus 19:17)
“Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.” (Proverbs 27:5)
I believe the question we should ask before speaking is: What is my motive in speaking truth?
Am I trying to prove my moral superiority?
Am I trying to put the other person in their place?
Or do I have a genuine concern for this person?
I believe that truth that leads to repentance is truth that is delivered from a heart of genuine love and concern for our brother or sister.
We can change the world, one life at a time…