Have you ever noticed the first sermon that Luke recorded in his gospel? John declares that repentance is necessary to prepare the way for Christ but when the people ask what to do Luke tells them that sharing their belongings is concrete evidence of repentance!
John the Baptist went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The people came out to hear him, to be baptized. John did not mince words. He called them a brood of snakes! The people cried out – what shall we do!??
How do you prepare for the coming of the Messiah?
How do you prepare the way for the Lord making straight paths for him?
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 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.”Luke 3:10-14
Advent, the coming of the Messiah, is a time for considering how we can help others in need. That’s the gist of Luke’s message, that our response to the gospel makes us sensitive to how we treat others. Sharing is at the heart of the gospel.
John insisted that repentance was not an abstract theological term or a matter of form and ceremony. Rather, it was a radical change from a self-centered existence of greed, dishonesty, and discontent to a practical expression of moral and ethical relationships with others.Study Bible Notes
When Jesus sent the disciples out to minister as His representatives, He reminded them, “Give as freely as you have received!” The Apostle Paul quoted Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Paul also reminds us in Philippians, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” How do we capture the gift of giving, the joy of sharing with others during Advent? Gift-giving is a common practice – sometimes even giving extravagantly to family and friends. But what about those in need? What can we do? Here are 10 ideas to spark your creativity!
- Set aside $5 for each gift you buy for family and friends. When your shopping is over, donate the set-aside money to a charity that helps the homeless.
- Invite your children to select toys, jackets, favorite shirts they have outgrown to donate to local gift drives for children.
- Write thank you notes to teachers, coaches, and pastors.
- Double your tips to those who serve you during the Advent season – write a simple Merry Christmas on the ticket.
- Surprise the person behind you in line at the coffee shop, fast food restaurant by paying for their order.
- Purchase $5 gift cards to a favorite fast food, ice cream or coffee shop (maybe 10). Give them away to people you meet who need encouraging!
- Fill your discarded purses with personal hygiene items, soaps, lotions to hand out to homeless women.
- Donate canned goods to your local food bank. Better yet, volunteer at your local food bank.
- If your local nursing homes allow visitors, take Christmas cards to give to residents. If gifts are welcomed, fill stockings for residents.
- Compliment the strangers you meet along the way, give the gift of smiles!
Let’s rekindle the joy of sharing during this Advent season!
Father, we are in awe of You because You sent Your only son to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. As we celebrate this amazing gift, may our hearts be tender towards the needs of others. You have blessed us with so much, help us to open our hands to extend grace, help, and a measure of joy to others! May we represent You well, giving freely as we have received from you – grace so undeserved! Amen.