Luke #34 – Practical Preaching
“And the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?’ He answereth and saith unto them, ‘He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.’ Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, ‘Master, what shall we do?’ And he said unto them, ‘Exact no more than that which is appointed you.’ And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ And he said unto them, ‘Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages’” (Luke 3:10-14 – King James Version).
I was talking with a pastor friend on the phone the other day when I asked him what he had preached on that past Sunday. He said “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” He said “I heard a sermon somewhere and I can remember nothing else besides the three points. They were: They wouldn’t bend, they wouldn’t bow, and they wouldn’t break.” I said, “Yeah, I know that sermon! You gave me the tape of that sermon from the pastor’s conference.” My friend said, “I couldn’t forget those points, so I preached on them.” I couldn’t forget them either. I don’t even remember the pastor that preached the sermon and neither did my pastor friend. The point was that it made its point. We both walked away from the listening to the sermon with something practical to put in our pocket. We both walked away knowing that we could not have a half-hearted faith. It was practical.
That’s the way brother John preached. Let’s look at three very practical examples of John’s preaching that we would do well to learn. The crowd asked “What should we do to show our faith?” John simply says for them to give of what they have. If someone takes something from us, supplement their theft by giving them more. That’s practical AND revolutionary. Rather than giving of what we have in these days and times, we concentrate on getting more for ourselves. Giving what we have proves our faith because we firmly believe that God will not leave us in need.
The tax collectors asked John what they should do. John said, “Whatever you do for a living, do it well and be fair about it.” For example, if you are a policeman reading this, don’t speed just because you can and don’t give tickets because of your personal preferences and prejudices. If you are a mill worker, don’t goof off and put in an honest days work. Goofing off on the job is no better than taking extra taxes as the tax collectors did…both are stealing.
The soldiers then asked what they should do. John said, “Don’t cheat others and be content with your pay.” A Christian that is never satisfied with their wage is a Christian that is not seeking satisfaction in the right place! A Christian that finds that they need to go around the system to make more money (not paying taxes for example) is a Christian that isn’t trusting God to take care of them.
Though John had tough messages to preach, they were practical. His messages were useful. In the few short sentences above John gave us three practical things we can use in our day to day lives. Now we must ask ourselves these three questions and let God analyze our hearts. Do we share what we have? Do we work honestly and deal fairly with others? Are we content with what we have or don’t have?
All three things are basically trust issues and will show us our true level of trust in God. If we really trust Him, we will live like it. We will trust that He will take care of whatever we lose in living for Him. Practical? Yes! Easy to hear and do? No! But, isn’t that the way of practical preaching and practical living? We are challenged to live real and trusting lives before the Lord. Are we doing it?