“Put your money where your mouth is!”
“Actions speak louder than words!”
“Practice what you preach!”
“All talk, no action!”
All these sayings, these idioms, are just ways of saying the same basic thing: “Prove it!” They all mean showing by our actions and not just our words that we truly support or believe in something, or that what we are saying about ourselves is actually true. Words come easy. But for our words to ring true, they have to be backed up by our actions. And for those of us who are followers of Christ, nowhere is this more true than when it comes to repentance.
As he prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry on earth, John the Baptist said, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8). Repentance means turning away from sin and turning instead toward God. It means changing your mind and then acting on that change. And the only way to prove a changed mind and a changed life is in the way that we live. Saying that we repent is not enough. We need to prove our repentance by our actions. Our lives need to bear the fruit of our repentance.
In Matthew 13:8, Jesus says, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” The changed life that comes as a result of true repentance is shown by the fruit that life produces. In Acts 26:20, while defending himself before King Agrippa, the apostle Paul said, “I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.”
We are not saved by our actions, by the good things that we do. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone. But salvation does require repentance and, as we have seen in the words of John the Baptist and the apostle Paul, repentance can only be proven by a change in the way that we live our lives, by the good things that we do. As children of God, we must imitate our heavenly Father in all that we do and our lives must reflect the example of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). We need to live lives free of immorality, impurity, and greed (Ephesians 5:3-5). As Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:8, we were once “full of darkness” but now we “have light from the Lord” and so, we must live as people of light!” When we live in the light that is Jesus Christ, we will live in a way that proves our repentance.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.