You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’
To read today’s portion of scripture, you can purchase The One Year Bible or find the following in your Bible:
I have an enormous aversion to caterpillars. It stems back to when I was twelve and my friend’s brother, Jack (who I had a crush on) thought it would be funny to push me into a bush completely covered by tent caterpillars. When I emerged, screaming, I was the one covered in caterpillars. My crush on Jack evaporated as I ran home, shaking and spinning and trying to brush all those disgusting creatures off of me. I jumped in the tub as fast as I could, and I still remember yelping as a caterpillar fell off my hair and into the water.
But I love butterflies. How can you not? They’re gentle and delicate, and so beautiful you can’t imagine they had ever, ever been crawly, gushy, disgusting creatures.
That’s exactly the transformation we should undergo when we yield our lives to Jesus; when we say, “Not my will, but Yours;” when we welcome the companionship of the Holy Spirit, who loves us too much to let us continue walking around in our caterpillar-selves. God means for us to be butterflies, and we are the only ones who can hinder that change.
John does not compare the Pharisees to caterpillars, but to vipers. On another post, I’ll explain how and why I’m so terrified of snakes. But let me just say that I would swim in a pool full of caterpillars before I would willingly touch a snake.
Vipers were the right choice for John’s comparison. For those deadly snakes had a habit of lying among a pile of sticks, and since they looked so similar to those sticks, people sometimes reached into that harmless looking pile to gather sticks for a fire, and received a poisonous bite instead.
That’s what the Pharisees did. Instead of offering warmth and help to those who needed them, they bit. They filled others with the poison of their dead, loveless, legalistic religion.
Just after John tells them to prove their repentance by the way they live their lives, he gives examples that describe a life transformed:
- Let your stinginess be transformed into generosity
- Let your dishonesty be transformed into truthfulness
- Let your lies be transformed into love
- Let your bitterness be transformed into contentment
In other words, do the opposite of what you’re ve been doing. Let God put a new heart in you—a peaceful, gentle, loving heart that demonstrates your total transformation. .
A few Pharisees became butterflies—but only a few.
What is your life proving to those who are watching?