Lesson 16 Growth Must be Intentional
It’s been said that experience is the best teacher. But, I agree with John Maxwell when he says, “Experience in itself is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is.” I am a runner. In my younger years I loved to compete. But, after each race, my coach would talk through how I did. As we evaluated each race, and we evaluated my competition, he would point out how I could become better. He would say that racing is 90% mental and 10% ability. You could beat out guys who were better by running smart and strong mentally. So he would coach me to do that.
The Passage: Matt 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-14
As John’s fame began to spread, there were 2 kinds of people who came to listen. The first group to note were the religious. Matthew notes (Matt 3:7) “Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to his baptism.” As news of his ministry reached the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious counsel, a delegation was sent to investigate.
John was proclaiming the coming of a king and a kingdom, and his preaching had obvious messianic overtones. It seems that the Sanhedrin had a policy to investigate any potential messianic movement. (Fruchenbaum)
- First they would send a delegation to observe and report.
- If deemed credible, they would send another delegation to interrogate, ask questions, raise objections, and look for a basis to either accept or reject the person with messianic claims.
Matthew notes that the Pharisees and Sadducees came TO HIS baptism (Matt 3:7), they did not come to be baptized by John. When John saw them coming he confronts them and calls them snakes. He knew they weren’t coming to repent, but to investigate with a critical eye. But he calls them to repent anyway! These were very bold words!
John reminds them that the Messiah would come as a Judge to remove the sinful from the kingdom. “The axe is laid at the root of the trees. Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!” (Matt 3:10) In light of the coming judgement John exhorts them to repent! (Matt 3:8) “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
The second group that heard John’s ministry, came in genuine repentance, desiring to be baptized. Pentacost comments the following: “In his audience there were many publicans and sinners, with Gentiles, Samaritans, soldiers, and people of all classes. His message was democratic and deep; conviction gripped the hearts of many through this earnest preaching with the result that multitudes were asking earnestly and repeatedly: “What then are we to do?” (Luke 3:10)
- Tax collectors made their living by extorting their own people. in response to their question, “What shall we do? John told them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” (Luke 3:13)
- Soldiers supplemented their income by using their authority through threats and violence to extort people. When they asked, John told them, “Do not extort people with threats, be content with your wages.”
“As the crowds pressed forward for confession and baptism, John put his finger on the besetting sin of each. He also laid down a few broad principles of reformed conduct.” (Pentacost)
John called for true repentance. True repentance always results in change. The very nature of repentance is that of turning away from one thing, and toward another. The religious leaders didn’t want to turn away from their position or authority, but tax collectors, soldiers, Gentiles and Samaritans heard John’s message and genuinely sought change!
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
John exhorted the religious leaders to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. While they didn’t listen and heed his exhortation, publicans and sinners did!
As they heard John’s message, they began asking, “What then shall I do?” John answered by pointing out specific things in each of their lives that needed to change.
When we stop and evaluate our lives by scripture, and ask “what shall I do?” the Holy Spirit will be faithful to show those areas in our lives that are hindering others from seeing Him through us. Truth should lead to repentance, and repentance leads to change.
- What can I learn from this?
- What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
For those who genuinely sought forgiveness, John put his finger on the besetting sin of each one who asked. What would God say if I genuinely asked God that question? What would he put his finger on in my life?
In many ways this is the foundation of a personal growth plan.
- Reading God’s word.
- Genuinely asking God what He is revealing about your heart through His word.
- Then asking, what then shall I do? What changes do I need to make in order to become what God has revealed?
This is what I have been doing with this study. But, it should be something we are doing every day. Asking God,
- What in my life hinders people from seeing you clearly through my life?
- What can I / should I be doing that is going to lead people to seeing you through my life?
- What do you want me to do about it?
John Maxwell says, “You won’t grow until you change something you do everyday.” What daily habit do I need to change in order to be a better picture of you to those who witness my life? What new habit do I need start doing everyday?
And, just like I learned in high school, a good coach can help you identify those things and be intentional to work toward change. John was used by the Holy Spirit to point those things out in those people’s lives. Coaching is an intentional conversation, partnering with the Holy Spirit in your life, to implement what He reveals to you. If that sounds like something that would beneficial to you, I would be very happy to coach you.
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
What do I need to declare to myself, what steps do I need to make, in order to implement and integrate what God is telling me?
- At the beginning of each day I need to pray God will enable me to enter my students world and attune, validate and identify with what they were experiencing. It’s going to take denying myself in order to do that. I want to live out 1 Thess 2:8.
- I need to pause at the end of everyday to reflect on how I displayed Christ to those I encountered. Did they see Christ through my interaction with them? What/How can I display Christ better?