January 9

Text: Matthew 3:7, 8

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance . . .” (NASB)

“Choice”—what a word!  One simple, little word!  Yet, how much this one simple word says.  It says, “I am responsible.”  It says, “I must decide—I cannot pass!”  It declares, “What I decide will determine what happens.”  It shouts, “This is the height of personal decisions!”

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to John seeking to evade choice.  They came as snakes seeking to flee from destruction.  John said what they sought was not available.  They could not actually evade the responsibility to be righteous.  An appeal to a human position would not count.  Righteousness was not a matter of going to John in the Jordan wilderness and being baptized. 

Sure, the trip took effort and the whole ordeal was uncomfortable.  Sure, they might ask, “What do you want and expect?”  Sure, they might think, “This is downright unreasonable!”  However, being righteous was not a matter of what someone else might ask, want, expect, or think.  It was a matter of what the person who aspired to righteousness felt and did.  Note the confession of sins preceded repentance, and both preceded baptism.

There is that word again—choice!  Personal responsibility!  Personal decision!  Personal dedication!  Personal desire!  Never is a person righteous because the person is afraid.  Righteousness is a positive response to God, not a negative response to God.

Suggestion for reflection: Consider your reasons for responding to God.  (Read Proverbs 3:31-35.)

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