Giving

The Money Lessons of John the Baptist

Did you know that John the Baptist taught about money?

John the Baptist was the guy who prepared the way for Jesus. He taught that a messiah was coming. But John wasn’t exactly a GQ kind of guy. He went to the wilderness. He wore a camel’s hair tunic, which he bound up with a belt. I can’t imagine a barbershop was close around the corner. He had a high protein diet of locusts, which he mixed in with some honey.

But still the crowds came. His fiery message of repentance was the first strong prophetic voice in ages. And for those who heeded John’s message of repentance, they came with a simple request. What do I do now?

The Bible records three separate responses:

  1. To the crowds, he said, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3.11).
  2. To the tax collectors, he said, “Collect no more than you are authorized
    to do” (Luke 3.13).
  3. To the soldiers, he said, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or
    by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3.14).

While we don’t think of people during Jesus’ time as being preoccupied with money, it’s fascinating that John’s practical instructions all have to do with money.

He urges them be generous—give away your extra tunic or food to those in need.

He urges the tax collector to operate with financial integrity.

He warns the soldiers not to use their position for financial gain, and to be content with what they have.

John’s message to a society far less affluent than our day is, in essence, to handle their finances well—to be content, to be generous. In our day of excess, how timely John’s message is. Perhaps we need to reexamine our own generosity. Can we help someone in need? Is there an area of our life where we need to operate with more financial integrity? Should we address our contentment?

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