Fruit Consistent With Repentance?
December 4, 2013
As we head into the Christmas season, I love to go back and read the original Christmas story. I am not merely referring to the birth of Jesus, but also to the beginning of His ministry. Today, I want to look at this part of the story and focus on John the Baptist. Let's see what he can teach us about the fruit we should be producing.
John The Baptist
Prior to the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of His ministry, his cousin John the Baptist was out in the wilderness preaching about repentance. Crowds of people were coming out to hear him and learn from him. Not the most polite or tactful preacher, John just told them the raw truth! I love that!
Take a look at how he greeted them as they came out to hear him:
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?
Kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, huh? Well, regardless of your thoughts, his greeting did not turn the people away. In fact, it is only a few verses later that they ask him what they should do!
How To Produce Fruit?
John then went on to clarify that they had no excuses for their behavior and they should be producing fruit consistent with repentance.
Did you catch that? What does it mean to produce fruit that is consistent with repentance? I have a few ideas, but I would rather hear from John the Baptist himself as to what he meant by that!
If we keep reading, he clarifies this by giving us three specific examples of fruit that I believe we can apply to our lives and businesses today. Let's take a look!
"The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same."
Fruit #1 - Share With Those In Need.
John makes it clear that many of those in the crowds had plenty while others were in need. He did not mince words, but cut right to the point. For those who had more than they needed (two shirts), they were to give to those who had none.
This is easy for us to apply today, right? I guess the only question is how much is more than we need? Just because our paycheck does not always stretch far enough past our bills does not mean we are in need.
I think we all need to look in the mirror and realize that we are rich if we are reading this right now. Then we just need to go and give to those who are in need. There is not much I can (or need to) add to John's words here.
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He told them, "Don't collect any more than what you have been authorized."
Fruit #2 - Don't Collect More Than You Should.
In this day and time, the tax collectors were the most hated because they were notorious for collecting more in taxes than was owed. They simply kept the difference for themselves. John was calling them out on it!
While I am certain some of you allowed your mind to immediately run toward politics, that is not at all what we need to focus on here! John's message here applies to us as well. For those of us that own or operate businesses, this message applies to us as well.
Certainly, my industry is also notorious for using smoke and mirrors to charge more for our products. In fact, that is why we made dramatic changes to our process - so we would not be collecting more than we are "authorized."
What about your business? Are there grey areas where it is unclear or not very transparent to the customer? Are you taking advantage of your authority or leverage to charge more than a fair profit?
This could also apply to employers taking advantage of the employees under their authority. "Collecting more than you should" could apply to taking more benefit from your employee's work than you are paying for. Have you thought about that?
Maybe it is time to do a deep dive and assess the condition of your pricing and/or compensation policies.
Some soldiers also questioned him: "What should we do?" He said to them, "Don't take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages."
Fruit #3 - Be Satisfied With Your Wages.
To the soldiers, John addressed their wages. These are people under authority. Sure, they have leverage, but they also answer to others. John made sure they understood that even though they COULD gain greater wages through force or device, they were not to do so.
How does this apply to us today? Does this mean we are not to seek to earn more, even if it is for the advance of the kingdom through giving more? No! It simply means that we are to use our skills and effort to do so, not undue force or deceit.
Just because you know your boss is in a precarious position and cannot easily replace you does not mean you are justified in taking advantage of him by consistently coming in late or leaving early. Just because it is the busy season and you know you are needed does not give you the right to demand a raise under threat of walking out.
Have you examined your fruit lately?
Did any of John's examples hit a nerve with you?
What fruit should you start producing?
About The C12 Group
The C12 Group is America's leading executive roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners building great businesses for a greater purpose. C12 Members gather monthly for a unique, proven peer forum to engage in worthwhile continual learning, brainstorming, intentional accountability, and to share proven best practices, combined with eternal perspective. Members also receive monthly counsel through one-on-one sessions, an annual business review, and an online library of high-impact leadership tools. Founded in 1992 by Buck Jacobs, dedicated Christian author and CEO, C12's mission is to change the world by bringing forth the Kingdom of God in the marketplace through the companies and lives of those He calls to run businesses for Him.
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