And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:10-14
What should we do and how should we act? These are questions believers and non-believers have asked since the beginning of time. John gave some examples in today’s verses. We are to help each other and not horde our possessions. Early in my career I went to a career counselor and something we talked about was motivation, what motivated in my work. As he told me we can only wear one pair of shoes at a time and only drive one car at a time. When we accumulate more than we need we end up a slave to our possessions. For those who have been blessed with abundance we need to share that abundance with others.
He turned to the tax collectors and told them to only collect what they were authorized to collect. In that time tax collectors were given by Rome how much they should collect and send to the government but everything over that amount was theirs to keep. Consequently the tax collectors over collected and became rich off the rest of the people. In essence they were stealing from the people all with the blessings of the Roman government. This is the reason tax collectors were so despised by the Jews.
The Roman soldiers also would force the people to give them money and supplies. In fact a Roman soldier could ask anyone to carry their pack for a mile and they often did so. They could mistreat the people with impunity. They abused the power of Rome. But the Jewish soldiers were also guilty of abusing the people taking what they wanted without regard to legalities.
John was giving those who asked a very simple rule to how to act, treat each other fairly and help each other. Jesus would simplify this answer. We are to love each other as we love ourselves. In fact is every Christian would treat everybody they encounter with love not only would we please God but we would soon fill our churches. We drive more people away by out condemning natures and judgmental attitudes than anything else that keeps people from God. We will never argue or cajole people to a relationship with God but we can love them into one.
Have a blessed day,