Bear fruits in keeping with repentance
As he undertakes the task of speaking for his brothers, Judah approaches Joseph (Genesis 44:18). For a reason only known to Hashem, Judah recounts to the Egyptian Viceroy the story of their long lost brother and of the pain it inflicted on their father. Joseph listens intently to this inside information concerning him and his father. Jacob’s pain concerning Joseph seems to have been a crushing weight on that family. As Judah makes his plea before the Viceroy, he reveals that he presently stands as safety for Benjamin in the eyes of his father (Genesis 43:9).
This is a pivotal moment for Judah and his family; this is the time of reckoning. Their sin has returned upon them and judgment from On-High is about to be pronounced. They stand before Joseph as if it were before the Court of Heaven; the verdict is about to be pronounced. It is then that Judah makes the move that will change the wheels of justice: he offers himself as ransom for the life of Benjamin. This is exactly what Joseph was looking for: true repentance from a changed heart, repentance translated into acts of godliness.
To be repentant with the heart only is not enough. If this repentance does not become the force and the engine that puts the body into motion towards godly behavior and actions, even into reversing a former misdeed, it is not repentance; it is just being sorry which while being emotionally somewhat comforting, is legislatively useless. When Judah offered himself as a slave for Benjamin, he showed concerned for both the father and the house of Rachel which he had formerly despised, and that was acceptable unto Joseph. The idea here is that no matter how sorry we are, we cannot improve the 'grade' until we are faced again with the same test, with a similar situation giving us the opportunity to make different choices. In this case, Judah passed the test.
It is the same with us. We are daily faced with situations and choices. Some we pass, some we don’t and the Master keeps the grade. In the end we are told that Abba will judge the world according to the Master’s deciding (Acts 10:42). Jewish sages teach us that a judge is unfit to judge a man unless he can find that man’s sin within Himself. Yeshua who taught the same thing (Matthew 7:3-5) came and was subject to every temptation just as we are; he is therefore the Fit Judge and one day, we will stand before Him like Judah before Joseph and have to not only speak repentance, but also show fruits meet for it.
This is part of the restoration of our heart mind and soul. Restoration does not come by a stroke of magic that instantly reprograms our nature and character. It comes by meeting again the situations that made us fall; it comes by taking the test again and hopefully get a better grade. God is patient (2 Peter 3:9). May we therefore be faithful to do our homework, to do our best to present ourselves to God as approved, workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).