Two Tunics

two tunics

“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.'”
-Luke 3:10-14

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.



“…this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against…that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

-Luke 2:34-35

When encountering You, people rise, or they fall. Their true thoughts are drawn to the surface. They kneel or they resist; they fill with longing, or with rage…but no one remains neutral.

And so the story of Jesus the human unfolds with an old man’s warning:

This child is here to save us, but many will not accept that. Everywhere He goes, He will draw out what people really think. 

In other words, Simeon was telling Mary this: things are about to get messy.

Things are still messy. You do not enter anyone’s life and leave it neatly put together. You draw the mess to the surface; You make it impossible to for us to politely smooth out the wrinkles and pretend our issues aren’t there. You ask questions I would rather avoid.

No wonder Israel reacted strongly to You. You knew their hearts and took away their ability to pretend.

Here, now, the question remains: how do I react to You? Do I rise or fall? What comes to the surface when You reveal my thoughts? What do I do when I am laid bare?

It is worth it to be close to You. To be close to light. But even now, I don’t always see that. I feel the discomfort and I run the way of those who fall: toward pride, toward denial, toward self-justification, toward ‘it was the woman!,’ ‘it was the snake!,’ ‘it was the people!,’ ‘it’s not my fault!,’  ‘I WAS RIGHT!’

There are two ways to react to true greatness:

  1. I can shrink back and turn away, frantically trying to hold my own illusion of greatness intact.
  2. I can fall forward and let my own image fall, too.

(for it has never been good to worship an image, and even without recognizing it, the image I worship most often is my own).

Better to fall. I can fall before true greatness. I can fall before You. Better to be low and close than to be high and mighty…and so far off that I don’t even see it.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”

-James 4:10

To remain close to You is a constant, uncomfortable humbling, but it is also honesty; it is choosing not to lie to myself. And it is in falling that I am lifted up.



My heart is such that angry impurities are always boiling to the surface. So badly, I want to be enough, to be impressive, to be in charge. But a relationship with You is all about being willing to see what my heart really thinks, and choosing to say “no” to it, in order to obey You. It is about laying down ambition in order to experience love.

Always You call me forward, into further falling.

But it is not just falling down from tightly held dreams for myself; it is falling in love with a most precious treasure. So help me let go and fall. Your arms are waiting.