In reading Luke (3:10-14), we will often read these words, note their usefulness, but not really consider what John actually meant. John gave some firm exhortations with regard to benevolence, honesty, an overbearing nature, justice, and economy.
“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 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 what is appointed for you.’ Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, ‘And 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, NKJV)
A benevolent spirit within God’s saints is a crucial characteristic that emulates the Father of all glory. You will note that with the benevolent spirit, there is an obligation to self, but if extra is available, then share (3:11).
Honesty in business (or in any endeavor of life) should go without saying; it should, but unfortunately, it can’t. There are a good many people who are not honest at all! Those who are not honest desire to get and keep the upper hand on anyone. The saint, if he is guilty, will lose his soul for such egregious thinking and actions. John makes this clear in his charge to those who asked (3:12).
Interestingly, it is with the soldiers of the roman army that John admonishes with the next three exhortations. First, do not intimidate anyone. This is another way of saying: do not be overbearing. Not everyone responds to such tactics; in fact, the Lord (through John) says that not anyone should have to. Second, John says that false accusations are out of place. In other words, only tell the truth. Who amongst us does not understand the value truth? Having to remember non-truths (lies) makes it hard on the one who espouses them. The truth is easy to recall, even without effort. Last, related to the previous, John tells the soldiers to be content with their wages. In other words, some of the roman soldiers had a tendency to blackmail people. “These soldiers were tempted to obtain money by informing against the rich, blackmail again. So the word comes to mean to accuse falsely” (RWP, E-Sword). Being content with one’s wages is difficult in an ever-expanding economy like ours. J.W. McGarvey said the soldiers were paid about “three cents a day,” but in this pay they did receive other benefits (like food and clothing). Nevertheless, the amount of pay certainly encouraged discontent. John addressed it this by telling them to be content. The word “content” is defines by Webster’s “not disturbed; having a mind at peace; easy; satisfied, so as not to repine, object, or oppose” (E-Sword).
If God’s saints would do such as that which John mentioned, do you think the Lord’s name would be glorified? I think it would and, no doubt, you do also.