Friday, December 11
Today’s reading brings us back to John. John the Baptizer, John the prophet, John the negative Nancy. He’s always raining on our parade, warning us of some impending doom, calling us names—this time, “brood of vipers.” Gee, thanks, John.
But, as usual, he’s on to something. While we’re busy going about life, frolicking in our sure salvation, John is begging us to remember that the security of our salvation doesn’t get us off the hook. Trees that don’t bear good fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire.
“Bear fruits worthy of repentance,” he tells us. Let’s parse that for a minute. In this case, “worthy of” means something along the lines of “consonant with.” The ESV translation reads, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” Let your fruit arise out of your repentance. If the tree is repentance, the fruit will be good.
Repentance might not be the first virtue that comes to mind during Advent, but it’s a necessary one. How can we prepare our hearts to receive the coming Lord if we’re stocking them with rotten, mealy fruit? We must confess our sin, clear it out, and start to bear good fruit—good fruit like giving to others, taking no more than our share, and being content with what we have.
This is pretty practical fruit here. Take the weekend to choose one of the actions John names and put it into practice in preparation for Christmas.
Prayer: Merciful God, I confess my sin and selfishness to you. Don’t let me get too comfortable. Prune the bad fruit from me and give me the grace to bear good fruit that’s worthy of repentance.