MARK 3:8-9: “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. 9 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.”
OBSERVATION: Is “tradition” something that should be embraced or eschewed? We all have traditions in our life. Some we cherish, and others we wish would go away. Tradition is something that is part of our heritage, our routine, our every day life. It helps us to recall important things in the past, and gives us an anchor of certainty as we face the future. Tradition can be a wonderful thing – but it can also keep us from God. When this happens, tradition becomes a stumbling block and must be eschewed.
John the Baptist was calling men and women to repentance. He was not calling them to a “religious” outward expression, but a true inner examination of the heart that is shown through tangible actions of change. He warned them about trusting in their tradition, in their heritage. They were Jews. They were the chosen people of God. They were descendants of Abraham. Surely the message of repentance was for the sinner, the Gentile – how could it be for God’s chosen people?
John’s answer was both bold and blunt. He proclaimed – “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees…” In other words, all the tradition that they were taking ease in, that they were trusting in, was coming down. God was now dealing with one person and one heart at a time. It was not about whether a person was a son of Abraham or not. Rather, it was whether they were bearing fruits of true repentance and preparing their hearts for the Kingdom of God.
Do I trust in my tradition? Do I think that just because I go to church my heart is right before the Lord? Do I think the call to repent is for “sinners” and not for me? As Christians we can begin to live off our traditions rather than a daily dependence upon Jesus Christ through faith. We can take ease in our routines, our duties, and our surroundings – thinking that we are just fine, when in reality we are drifting further and further away from the Lord. Repentance is not a one time event – it is a posture and a pursuit for our entire life. Each day we need to come before the Lord and bear fruits worthy of repentance.
It is not that we need to be saved over and over again, but we do need to be cleansed! Along the pathway of life our feet get pretty dusty. We can pick up attitudes and actions that begin to pull us away from a truly surrendered walk with the Lord. It is the weight and sin that so easily trips us up that we need to daily bring before the Lord. Tradition is a wonderful and beautiful thing – unless it is used for a crutch and an excuse to avoid the cleansing that we need.
Lord, help me to let go of everything I am leaning upon and lean solely upon You! May tradition be a wonderful reminder of all that You have done in and for my life, but may it never be that which I place my faith in or use as an excuse to stay just as I am. May I truly count everything in my life as loss for the excellency of knowing You and being clothed in Your righteousness. Help me today to bear fruits “worthy of repentance”. In Jesus Name!