Fruit of repentance!
Scripture reading for March 18th: Luke 3:1-22, Psalms 61:1-8, Proverbs 11:16-17
John the Baptist was a preacher who spoke plainly to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Lord. He knew that repentance was more than just a prayer or being immersed in water. There must be a change inside of the heart that was reflected in how one lived. He especially tried to reach those who were caught in the trap of religion.
“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”” (Luke 3:7-9) John called them a ‘brood of vipers’. Vipers were poisonous snakes that bit the children of Israel in the desert as they wandered there and complained. Poisonous snakes were associated with evil and the evil one, Satan.
John further warned them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance and not trust in the fact that Abraham was their father. The Jews had come to simply rely on the promises of God to Abraham and assumed because they had his blood in their veins, God would bless them. They asked John what they should do to bring this fruit of repentance out of their lives. They seemed clueless to this command.
John gave them some examples. If one had two coats, he should share with someone who had none. If one had food, they should share with one who had no food. If they happened to be a tax collector, notorious for taking lots of extra fees for themselves, they should only collect what was required. To those who were soldiers, John instructed them not to extort money or accuse people falsely to get more for themselves. They should be content with their pay. (Luke 3:10-14)
Real repentance is immediate change from breaking God’s laws to simple obedience. It is showing love, rather than selfish indulgence. It is centered on doing God’s will instead of my will. Examine your life–do you have the fruit of repentance?