Normally the birth of John the Baptist is a story read around the Christmas season, since he is the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, the birth of John has as much to do with his parents than with John himself.  It is with them that this article deals, with Zacharias and Elizabeth.

Three things about them are declared by the Bible: first, they were "righteous before God" (Luke 1:6).  This is some declaration, being righteous before God.  Some seek such righteousness by religious labors; but the Bible clearly states that "through the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight" [Rom. 3:20].  Those who go about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes" [Rom. 10:4].  Though they walked blameless in the commandments and the ordinances of the Lord, Zacharias and Elizabeth believed the gospel.

The second declaration of the Bible about this couple regards their work ethic: Zacharias was faithful to his duties.  He executed the priest`s office before God "in the order of his course" (Luke 1:8).  Being responsible to our obligations, fulfilling our responsibilities, is a great service.  But there was a third declaration about this couple: they had no child (Luke 1:7).  Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well stricken in years.  They had prayed for a child; yet, they had not received a child from the Lord.

This righteous couple had a serious prayer that had gone unanswered for many years.  The lack of an answer from God made them no less righteous before the Lord.  The lack of a child of their own, a desire many couples pray to see fulfilled, did not make them less righteous before God.  A great lesson is in such truth.  We tend to think less of ourselves because of what we are unable to do.  Fortunately, God does not.

In the midst of his faithfulness, while Zacharias is burning incense in the temple of the Lord, the angel Gabriel appears to him and tells him that God will answer his prayer and give Zacharias and Elizabeth a baby.  What great news this is.  It is the answer to a long awaited desire.  But there is a problem: Zacharias begins to discount.  He discounts what God has said about finally fulfilling the answer to his prayer, he discounts himself and he discounts his wife.  Zacharias asks the angel: "Whereby shall I know this? For, I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years" (Luke 1:18).

Too often we respond like Zacharias responds.  We seek an answer from the Lord; yet, we question the clear declarations of his Word.  We desire to know, "How can a man be just before God?"  And God desires us to know: "Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" [Rom. 3:21,22].  

If we do not discount the Word of God, we often discount ourselves.  We think so little of ourselves that we say God will not hear us when we pray.  We conclude that God will not forgive us when we ask of him mercy.  We fear that God will not bestow upon us the salvation or strength he so freely offers others.  Yet, the Lord said, "Ask, and ye shall receive.  Seek and ye shall find.  Knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7).  Zacharias used his age as his excuse.

If we do not discount ourselves, we often discount those about us.  My wife is "well stricken in years," declares Zacharias.  Often we look only at the faults or weaknesses of others, rather than looking at their strengths.  God had faith in Zacharias and in Elizabeth.  They needed to have faith in themselves.

You can discount to your own hurt; or, you can have faith in God, in yourself and in those about you.