Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Pastor Wallace has amassed many stories and anecdotes during his long tenure as a preacher. His sermons are generously, and entertainingly, punctuated by them.
And, I never tire of hearing them. Even when, occasionally, one is repeated.
They are just that good. Just that memorable.
As I meditate upon this verse from Matthew, a particular Pastor Wallace story comes to mind.
He tells of a young Catholic woman whom he meets years ago. She is chattering away, quite unabashedly, divulging some personal exploits which, to Wallace's ears, are a far cry from behaviors he expects from a Christian.
"Young lady," he begins, "thought you told me you believed in God; that you were a Christian?"
"Oh, yes, sir, I am," she responds proudly.
"Then, how come you're continuing to do the risky, unhealthy things you are?"
She shrugs. "It doesn't matter. You see, every week I go to confessional, tell the Father all my sins, do my penance, and I'm good to go."
Wallace looks her right in the eyes.
"Miss," he says gravely, "That's not the way it works."
And, he's exactly right.
Confession of sin is vital. But, so is true repentance.
The first admits to doing the wrong thing, having the wrong thoughts. The second commits to turning away from sinful ways.
To ask God's forgiveness. To become more Christ-like.
To accept God's grace in our lives. To allow that grace to move mightily within us.
That we might produce good fruit in His Holy Name.
How are you striving to become more like Christ in your life?
Will you pray with me?
The only way we can turn from evil, Father, is with Your help. Shine the light and goodness of Jesus into our hearts by Your Holy Spirit. Let us confess our sins in all humility and walk in the ways You have shown us. May we bear good fruit for Your Kingdom. Amen.
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