While John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness in Judea, a group of Saducees and Pharisees traveled to see this popular teacher for themselves. Addressing them directly, he asked why they had come, wryly attributing to them a wiser motive than curiosity: “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” he inquired. Then, he explained to them what was required of a person who wanted to be baptized: “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8).
The word “fruits” or “fruit” refers to the result of our efforts. “Meet” means “appropriate.” So John was challenging them to do something to demonstrate that they were repentant. I like how some translations of the Bible paraphrase this concept to make its meaning clearer:
- “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (New Living Translation).
- “Do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins” (Good News Translation).
- “Do something to show you have really given up your sins.” (Contemporary English Version).
I like the focus on action. Repentance isn’t just eliminating impurities from our lives. It means turning our thoughts and our actions toward God. As President Russell M. Nelson taught in the most recent general conference, true repentance leads to positive action:
When Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019).
The prophet Alma taught the people in the city of Ammonihah that God has the power to save everyone who “believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance” (Alma 12:15). After describing the happiness and peace experienced by those who repent, he urged them to “bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest” (Alma 13:13).
Moroni explained that, in the church organized by Jesus Christ during His visit to the American continent, candidates for baptism were required to “[witness] unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.” But just saying they had repented was not enough. “They were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it” (Moroni 6:1-2). And shortly before the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1830, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that candidates for baptism must “truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins” (Doctrine & Covenants 20:37).
Today, I will “bring forth fruit meet for repentance.” I will improve my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions. I will remember that my good works constitute the tangible evidence that my repentance is genuine.