Matthew 3:7-12 (ESV)
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume 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. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Mark 3:33-35 (ESV)
And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
John the Baptist and Jesus were both less concerned with who a person was as far as family and lineage goes, and more concerned with what that person did with their lives. Both were very stern with the religious leaders of the day, because they did not do what was right. They were focused on what they believed the Law said about sin and how to make the proper sacrifice for forgiveness, but did not want to do anything to make it easier on the people. Instead of looking for ways to help people understand the spirit of the law, they stuck to the letter of it.
So what can we do to be the wheat that John says the Lord will gather into His barn, and not the chaff that gets burned up in unquenchable fire? We can remember that we are God’s children and that He wants us to spread the good news to others. But we cannot spread the good news in a way that is contrary to it. What I mean is this. We should be as quick to offer grace to others as we would like God to give grace to us. And God has given us grace. He offered us forgiveness even while we were lost in our sins. The fact that He continues to offer forgiveness to people means that we must make certain that they know forgiveness and mercy are available to all who repent of sin.
There are many who say, “Don’t judge me, The Bible says not to judge.” However the context that continues warns that the same measure of judgment we use, will be used against us. So it is less a command not to judge, but to ensure that our judgment is fair and merciful. We also must judge ourselves, for if we sin, and do not condemn ourselves, but judge and condemn others, we will suffer greater judgment. We have been forgiven, because we repented. We need to be certain that others know that they only need to repent and the same forgiveness is offered to them.
Are we children of Abraham? Are we the brothers and sisters of Christ? That depends. Are we following the Lord of MERCY? Are we offering love and acceptance and encouraging others to change from their wicked ways? Let us be about the Kingdom of God. Let us be certain that the people that we know who are not currently children of God, know that they can be members of God’s family. Love them. If there be anything that can be said against us, let it be that we tried to ensure that they know God loves them.
by Virgil Stripes