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Matthew 3:7-19, Warning Against Unbelief

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

But when [John the Baptist] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
— Matthew 3:7-8,10

NL Daily Devotion for Friday, July 19, 2019

by R. Fergus Moir, Clergy Stuff


Belief is more than just a state of mind. A person can believe there is a God and still live as if God has nothing to do with them. A person can even go through the motions of their religious tradition and yet not live it out in their daily lives. John the Baptist knew this and saw it in those of religious authority who knew all the rules and regulations and went through all the motions of complex religious ritual, and yet ignored God’s commands to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, and the oppressed.

John has harsh words for these people, and a dire warning. It’s not enough to go through the motions! he shouts. Belief means bearing good fruit! And if you don’t change, you’re doomed!

I think Jesus has a little more grace than that, if I’m honest. But John’s point remains. It is not enough to simply believe as a state of mind—it falls short of what God asks of us, and of what God can do in our lives if we let God.

Where can I put my belief into action today?

Earlier Event: July 18
Hebrews 3:1-6, Moses and Christ