Keeping the Fruit Coming

Matthew 3:8 “Bear Fruit in Keeping with Repentance”

Repentance is an inward reality that produces outward evidence.

Repentance is an inward reality that produces outward evidence.

This passage really hit me today. In verse 7 we see “many” Pharisees and Sadducees, seemingly the most righteous of all people, coming to be baptized by John.  These people do everything right, and maybe they saw this as one more item on a checklist.  I don’t know.  It just seems like from the outside the Pharisees and Sadducees would be the last people needing to repent from something.

But that is just it.  Repentance isn’t an outside, external thing.  Repentance is an inward process.

John’s statement in verse 9 reinforces that for me.  These Pharisees and Sadducees weren’t righteous, upstanding, important people because of who they descended from or because of the rules that they kept.  The only thing that could make them righteous was repentance.

So back to what I was saying, repentance is not a to-do list.  It isn’t a specific prayer.  It isn’t memorizing verses, knowing the most trivia, always having the answer; it’s not raising your hands in worship, or walking down and aisle to pray with someone.  Baptism isn’t repentance.

Repentance is something that happens inside of you.  It’s the shaking of some tectonic plates with you that cause such a great stir that it resituates your entire life.  It is like a volcano that reaches its boiling point, erupts, and reforms its surrounding landscape.

Repentance is something that has to happen at the heart of a person.  It is a u-turn that must take place at our core, our deepest, most basic part of us must be redone, redirected.

When that kind of turning, change, alteration happens- it can’t help but work its way out through us.  It will show in our faces, our actions, our words, our thoughts, our taste in music, our choice of entertainment, our dress, our mannerisms, how we spend every ounce of our time will be redirected by this u-turn.

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

The Pharisees and Sadducees were righteous according to the letter of the law.  But their to-do list didn’t come from a changed heart.  When our deeds are governed by repentance they are seasoned with love, joy, and grace.  They rub off on other people.  They bear fruit.

My last point is the word “keeping.”  Now that repentance has been examined, we know what we are keeping with.  This word is indicative of an ongoing action, more specifically of ongoing maintenance or security of some kind, think of it like housekeeping.  Repentance must be kept up; our hearts must be kept up.  That initial direction change can be knocked off course again.  It must be maintained.

I think of it like this:  I love Will, but I also know that love is a choice.  I know that even though we live in the same house I could wake up one day and realize that I was hardly involved in his life at all.  I could wake up one day and find that I was bitter towards him instead of in love with him.  I know that these things could happen if I don’t maintain and guard our relationship and daily choose that no matter what either of us says or does I will be in love with him that day.

Repentance is the same.  Our hearts have a mind of their own (how many crushes and loves did you have in your teenage years?!).  When we repent- put our sinful, selfish, gluttonous, prideful, lustful, it’s-all-about-me ways behind us and turn toward God we give Him our heart’s desires and affections.  That requires maintenance.  The things of this world are very alluring.  So may we maintain our repentance.  And remember…

Being a follower of Jesus is about an ongoing inward reality that shows itself, that produces a different outward reality.

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