Matthew 3.8 commands. produce fruit that proves your repentance.
To the religious, to those who think they are approved by God, to those who know they are ‘right’ theologically; God says, ‘produce fruit that proves your repentance.’ This command is offensive because we like to be measured on our knowledge and intentions rather than the result of our actions.
Indeed, this command was offensive to the religious leaders who first heard it.
The idea that the religious elite should have to produce fruit proving their repentance was preposterous. After all, it is the religious elite who make the rules and not God Himself relaying such poor requirements through common followers.
Nevertheless, to the humble, to the true seeker of God, to the one who really wants to please God; He says, produce fruit that proves your repentance. What we do is more important than what we believe.
What we do reveals our true belief. If I believe in God and believe that God is the Ruler of the universe and Judge of all those who have ever lived and that I am accountable to Him alone, then I will orient my behavior around obedience to His commands lest I anger my Ruler and incur His condemnation on the day of accountability.
If I believe in God but perceive Him as all loving defined as unwilling to punish the wrongdoer or condemn the good intentioned, then I will live my life as I deem best and trust that I will be received as a beloved child upon my entrance to heaven. My belief about God determines my behavior. My behavior reflects my true belief about God.
When I live a self-seeking, self-pleasing life I prove that I believe that God doesn’t care how I live or I show that I don’t believe God really exists. In either case, what I say I believe, what I think about God, is irrelevant if God judges me based upon my behavior.
If God is holy, if God is perfect, if God is righteous, if God is good then doesn’t it make sense that He would require His people to demonstrate a similar disposition? Certainly we are not nor can we be mini gods which is why we need God to show us mercy and grace which He does in Jesus the Savior.
Nevertheless, God commands all those who would be His people to follow Him, to live as He lived, to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. In this way we will produce fruit proving our repentance from all the behavior that displeases God.
The result of this kind of life will be a judgement where instead of condemnation we hear, ‘well done My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.’