December 30, 2009

Fruitful Repentance

Written by Boyd Bailey

Fruitful Repentance… “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Authentic repentance is not perfunctory, but fruitful in its follow through. When the Holy Spirit arrests my heart and pricks my conscience about my behavior, I want to change. It may be a bold, loving friend that exposes my bad habit or unacceptable attitude. If so, will I change? Indeed, fruitful repentance is not just words of remorse, but a change in the way I have been acting. It is the removal of my pride, an encounter with my blind spots.

Fruitful repentance may be the hardest for those of us who have been in the faith for a long time. We get settled in a track of thinking that quits learning and growing. We can become comfortable with Christ and forget to fear Him. We can take God for granted and go places with our mind that a newfound faith would have forbidden. Watch out, that excuses or cover up do not become a default when you encounter a need for change.

For example, in our marriage we have opportunities to learn from each other everyday. One spouse may be frugal in their spending, while the other is free and becomes irresponsible with expenditures. So when the liberal spender becomes excessive, fruitful repentance may require them to discuss wanted items with their spouse before they spend money. Certainly don’t hide any spending from your husband or wife, as this leads to great loss of trust between spouses.

When you hear truth that is contrary to your living, how do you respond? If it remains a secret between you and God, it will get worse unless you confess it to others. Do not hide behind your teaching role in the church or your status with your family. People who love you will love you more when you come clean with judgmental attitudes, a flirtatious relationship, or an air of spiritual superiority. Penitent people invite forgiveness.

So what are some evidences of fruitful repentance? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a). Real repentance is not just being embarrassed that it was caught, but it takes responsibility with positive and proactive change for the good. There is a transformation from haughtiness to humility, judgment to grace, fear to trust and pride to penitence. Fruitful repentance fears the Lord and finds rest for its soul as it returns to good standing.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (Isaiah 30:15).

What attitude or actions of mine do I need to change? What positive fruit in my life is evidence of my repentance?

Related Readings
: 2 Chronicles 32:26; Psalm 51:1-13; Matthew 21:32; Acts 3:19

Transformational Living
What did I learn from the Lord in today’s Bible reading? How will I respond?

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