What does it mean to bear fruits worthy of repentance? Surely, one of the first things we are caused to understand is that declaring we have changed is only the first step. And, if it is the only change, then we have stopped short. James wrote in his letter to the church, "So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." (James 2:13) John the Baptist would agree. Repentance is not just a thing of the heart, but it is also something which expresses itself in the way life is lived with others. Resting on spiritual laurels is not an option. Neither is ignoring the needs of those around us. If someone needs a coat or food, they can no longer be ignored. If we truly bear the fruits of repentance, we cannot live oblivious to our brother and sister's need. If our heart is changed, it will manifest itself in our actions.
There is, therefore, a practical side to this repentance business. Repentance is not about some level of spirituality that makes us good for nothing on the earth, but something that enables us to bring a bit of heaven to the worst places and into the most difficult of relationships. Repentance changes the heart and the changed heart changes the world.