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A Prophet without Profit

Matthew 3:4-6
John’s clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. (NIVUK)

In those days, travelling philosophers made a good living. They had a new idea and people paid to hear it. Not so John. He was under God's instructions to get people ready to welcome the Messiah. He did not make any profit out of it at all, and nobody paid to hear his message. His clothes and food (typical ways of showing wealth) were basic. So was his message commanding repentance: it was unchanged since Isaiah wrote it, and still speaks today.

It was one thing for John's listeners to hear about the need to repent; another thing to take action. His preaching confronted them with the immediate possibility of meeting the Messiah, and God's Spirit showed them the evil in their lives and hearts. Knowing that they were not right before God, they confessed their sins. Their baptism was a personal choice; it was evidence that they were serious about repentance and wanted God's forgiveness.

What did John get out of his appointment? Nothing! He had no benefit from his harsh lifestyle and relentless preaching except the knowledge that he had done his job and was able to introduce Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world (John 1:29 ). Shortly, he would be imprisoned and beheaded. His reward was all to come. That is the normal way in which God treated His servants in the Early Church, and it is the same today. Although people may want to support their ministers, evangelists and missionaries financially, that must never be presumed. When God calls, He also provides; but hardship is never far away. Those who want to make money or a name for themselves in ministry have not understood: it is not about them, but all about Jesus.

Lord of all. Thank You for the privilege of being Your child and Your servant. I am sorry when I do not serve willingly, or when I expect more in this life than You kindly provide. Help me to appreciate the privilege of being chosen to be a part of Your kingdom. I want to grow in Your service and be available to do whatever You ask. I know You will enable me to do it, providing for my basic needs until I see You in Glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams