“So the people asked him saying, ‘what shall we do then?’ He answered and said to them, ‘He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.’ Then the tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than is appointed for you.’ Likewise, the soldiers asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do?’ So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.'”
I stared at this set of instructions for a long time trying to find a common thread.
Caste after caste asked the Voice in the Wilderness what they must do, and he was not afraid to call them out on how things really were.
Don’t ignore people who don’t have what they need.
Don’t take more than you should from people.
Don’t use your power to take advantage of people.
But the last answer caught my attention most: “Be content with your wages.”
Perhaps because that is the root of all the others. When you don’t think you have enough, you treat other people badly. You misuse your position. So this was John the Baptist’s answer:
Do you have two tunics?
Then decide you have enough.
Spend your energy taking care of other people instead.
I have more than two tunics. But I have been discontent with my wages, and fearful of the school bill looming. I am quick to decide I don’t have enough. Do I even think about how that translates into my treatment of others?
Guarantee I haven’t given away as much as I should, if only because I haven’t been paying attention to who might need it.
Self-absorbed people handle others poorly. They are running blind, frantically driven to meet needs that are already taken care of, rushing past and bulldozing over the real needs before them.
Help me to start with the root. Help me choose to be thankful for what You have chosen to give me-to be “content with my wages,” and so ready to fight for others, instead of pushing them down to reach for what I think I need.
Do I have two tunics?
Then help me decide that I have enough.