“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8 ESV
Repentance is a word we hear often in Christian circles. But what all does it entail? What exactly does it mean to “bear fruit”? And how are the two connected? Mark 3:8 is one of those verses that are short, sweet, and to the point, yet they contain massive truths about the Christian life in its entirety.
To “repent” is to “change one’s mind,” according to Crossway’s ESV Study Bible. This is essential. The key component to knowing and following the Lord is to have your mind and heart changed dramatically, even more than you may have been prepared for at the beginning of the journey. And contrary to what seems to be the popular belief in contemporary Christian culture, repentance is not genuine if it does not manifest in fruit.
Your actions are the evidence of what is rooted in your heart (Mark 7:21-22). A tree that is internally healthy is the tree that bears good fruit, and in the same way, if a tree isn’t producing good fruit – or any fruit at all – the explanation is that the tree isn’t healthy on the inside. Matthew 7:16-18 (ESV) says, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
So what kind of fruit are we supposed to be bearing? We obviously aren’t going to sprout grapes or figs any time soon. But we should be exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit of God: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-26).
If we aren’t bearing the kind of fruit that coincides with our claim to repentance—a changed self—then we need to do a heart check and be willing to turn from our old ways to a new life of obedience. May we take up our cross today, and “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord . . . bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
Lord, show me the areas of my life that are not bearing fruit. Give me a hatred for the sin in my heart that manifests in my thoughts, my words, and inevitably my actions. Grant me the true repentance that can only come through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Which fruits of the Spirit are you lacking? Humbly and honestly identify the areas in your life that are in need of true repentance, and consider how the fruits of the Spirit might apply to those individual areas.