The Fruit of Repentance
As this is the season of Lent we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the Easter Season to come. Especially Good Friday—that day when we celebrate (in a somewhat solemn way) Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus took our sins on his body and canceled the debt we owed. Sometimes we need help remembering this, and this is where Lent can help us. It helps us to keep a rhythm of confession, receiving forgiveness and repentance. Hopefully as we do this in an intentional way, we will carry this rhythm into the rest of the year!
To ask God to show us our hearts is so humbling isn’t it? And then to see our pride, our envy, our intolerance or unforgiveness is so hard to bring into the light. But what a gift confession is! But more so when we go on to receive the forgiveness Christ offers us!
A favorite writer of mine writes about repentance in such a winsome way. He notes that there are 5 ways we can see what repentance looks like. I’ve taken the liberty of grouping these examples in terms of desire. What we want more than anything in repenting is a changed will. And I think that our changed wills are marked by five desires. Each of these examples include a story from the New Testament.
The first fruit of repentance is a deepening desire for God, and for his righteousness. In leaving our sin, we are moved to long for Christ’s righteousness and presence. The story of Zacchaeus is a great example of this (Luke 19:1-10). Take your time in reading this account!
The second fruit is the desire for the right order of things—this we know as humility. God is God and we are not! And we see this so clearly in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.
The third fruit is the desire to fully return from the far country; to come home. This desire becomes a deep heartache and longing when we are sickened by our sin. When we want to cast it off and make our way home! You know the story here, Luke 15:11-32. And you know by reading that when we are not yet home—we are met by the Father who is himself a prodigal in his lavish welcome of us.
But what a gift confession is! But more so when we go on to receive the forgiveness Christ offers us!
The fourth fruit is a growing love for the “other.” When we turn from our introspection and guilt and shame, we look up and see a world full of people in need. We find ourselves desiring to see and to care for the needs of others. This story comes from Matthew 25:31-40, the final judgment.
And finally, repentance is marked by a desire to lay down our arms. I think we find that what we’ve wanted all along is to lay down our bitterness or unforgiveness, our weapons of destruction. We know just how much God has forgiven us in Christ and we find a new freedom to forgive others. In Matthew 6:14-15, we see this as a command, but more often than not the ability to forgive comes from the grace that Christ has poured into us by virtue of his death and Resurrection.
I hope, friends, that this encourages you. It certainly has encouraged me, and gives me such a vivid picture of repentance and one that stays with me more easily than just the word “repentance!”
May God continue to bless you during this season of Lent.