He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin 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.”
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.”
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
Recently I read a scripture that said God was “easy to please,” and deep down I doubted it. I’m sure if I asked 100 people to describe Him, “easy to please” would not make the top 10 list. But as I was reading Luke 3:7–18, it struck me that God is easy to please. God’s not asking us to run through crazy hoops to please Him. I then realized that we are the ones who make seeking Him and pleasing Him hard. Want proof?
Luke 3:7–18 begins with John the Baptist fussing at the half-hearted people who have come to him to get baptized, telling them in verse 8, “Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Then John tells them what will happen if they do not truly repent. All of a sudden, the fear of consequences kicked in and “So the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?’” (v. 10). The answer points out how simple and easy to please God truly is. He doesn’t tell them to fast and pray for 21 days or become a monk or witness to the very people who have done them wrong. No, God tells each group of people to do the very thing they should have been doing all along.
To the general masses: Be generous with what you have, not with what you do not have. “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v. 11).
To the tax collectors: Don’t cheat any more people. “Collect no more than what is appointed for you” (v. 13). There isn’t even a mention of restitution.
To the soldiers: Don’t continue to abuse your power. “Do not intimidate anyone (shake them down) or accuse falsely and be content with your wages” (v. 14).
What did God ask that these people could not do? His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
So why so often do we think God is hard to please? Why do we act like pleasing Him is a big sacrifice? Why do we act like we don’t already know what to do when it’s the little things from which God wants us to turn? Turn from evil and do good (Psalm 34:14).
Could it possibly be that God is easy to please, but we simply do not want to please Him? Could it be that we want to continue in our sinful ways? Are we rationalizing to keep from doing right? Selah! Pause and think about that.
Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes is an associate professor of mathematics and education at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.