Greetings readers! I love talking about matters of the heart and today is no exception.
A few recent observations regarding people’s hearts:
- One of my children diligently studied on a Friday night, Saturday morning, and on Sunday for a test the following week, but received a mediocre grade. The result wasn’t expected or desired, but what mattered was his heart.
- A group of business associates gathered from around the globe. Each person had varying levels of expertise. Reflecting on our time together, their knowledge was not at all what impacted my opinion or our overall success. It was their heart, the passion they demonstrated. The teamwork, listening, and asking good questions.
- An executive within my organization was asked “what company would be a good role model for us to aspire to be like?” His response had nothing to do with talent, or measures of success in dollars. His response admittedly didn’t directly answer the question, but it targeted the most desirable attribute: “I want this to be a company that people want to work for… there are other local and highly desirable companies, but I want people to at least give us a look because this is a great place to work.” I view this as having heart, one that focuses on people as our greatest asset.
In today’s reading (Luke Chapter 3), John the Baptist is preaching on true repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Even with John’s direct and sharp words, people appear to be responding in a favorable manner, asking good questions with the right heart.
- The crowds asked “What then shall we do?” (Luke 3:10b)
- Tax collectors respectfully addressed him as teacher saying “what shall we do?” (Luke 3:12b)
- Soldiers also asked “What shall we do?” (Luke 3:14a)
All three of the aforementioned groups demonstrated an initial recognition that things for them might not go so well in the future.
John’s responses in verses 11-14 (paraphrased):
- To the crowds: share your stuff (love others)
- To the tax collectors: quit stealing (be fair)
- To the soldiers: stop using your power to bully people and be glad for what you have (you’re in a position of authority, respect the position and others in your care)
Notice that John’s response was not simply “repent” (and keep on sinning). For each question, he gave specific instruction for their actions. This goes back to Luke 3:8a: Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.
Also in Luke 3:8, John warns them against relying on their heritage to save them. Our religion won’t save us, nor our deeds, nor our lineage; only our true repentant inward hearts reflected by outward actions, seeking salvation through Jesus Chris will save us.
This chapter also points out the contrasting heart. That of Herod whom John confronted for his sinful ways. Herod’s response was to lock John up in prison and ultimately have him beheaded.
Father God, you know my heart, I have no secrets from you. You know all. Show me my sins. Show me where I need to be more focused on others instead of myself. Have mercy on me. Show me a way out when I’m tempted. Thank you for saving me. Give me words and courage to share the good news with others today. Amen.
Featured image: bronze sculpture of John the Baptist by Giuliano Vangi.