So, the other day, I overheard someone say, "We need to repent for our actions." We hear this phrase often, but as I pondered this, I thought, "This sounds nice, but it isn't exactly accurate."
Again, as I wrote in my last blog, repentance means to change your mind. Our actions aren't really the problem--our problem lies within. Actions are just the fruit of the root. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 3:8 & 10 "Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance...The axe is already laid at the root of the trees..." "Fruit" here would be the outward expression--what is seen or what is produced--actions. These actions are to be "in keeping with repentance" or in keeping with a change of mind. Jesus didn't say take an axe to the fruit. He said to take an axe to the root. If you want good fruit, you've got to have a different root--what's behind the actions has to change.
Unfortunately, we spend most of our time focusing on and hacking away at the branches or trying to get rid of the fruit. We do this to ourselves and we do it to others; but this will not result in any true or lasting change. As Jesus says in Matthew 12:33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad..."Likewise He says in Luke 6:43-45, "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."
The fruit we seek is only found in one way--through relationship with Jesus--with Him being our root, our source, for our actions. Jesus gives us a clear picture of this fruit producing relationship in John 15:4-5 when He says, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Did you get that? Apart from Him, we can do NOTHING!! We can't make it happen! We can strain and strive to produce the fruit we want, but without the life-giving root of Jesse, Jesus, it won't happen. We can repent all day for our actions, but without abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing. Maybe it's time to seek and pray for a root change---to change the place where we abide--to spend our time with the One who can produce in us the fruit that is a natural outgrowth of The Root-- fruit in keeping with repentance.