Because my boss is awesome, we always start our weekly meeting with an ice breaker, todays question was this: ‘If you could know one thing about the future what would it be?’
When it came to my turn I said, “I’d want to know how the next four years will turn out, so I could post a spoiler alert on social media and people would possibly go back to loving each other, praying for our leadership no matter if we agree, and stop all the hate and political posts on social media.”
This made me think about deep issues, root issues, and what I’ve learned about them.
With the way in which the world looks today, this root realization has changed my life inwardly as I reflect on my growth (and plenty of areas still growing), and outwardly as I take in all this world throws out: the love and hate, the peace and chaos, the envious and the encourager. All of these can be boiled down to root vs. fruit.
This truth is what I try to keep in mind when it comes to everything I do and everyone I come in contact with. Not that I’m always successful. We’ve all heard the popular saying “everyone is fighting a battle” and honestly I believe it’s all to true most times. My question is, are we fighting the right one, are we spending our energy, strength and time in the right place to make a real, lasting difference.
Let me explain a bit more, hurt people hurt people, angry people anger people, joyful people ignite joy in others, the list goes on and on and we can all put our own example in here.
The next theme is what I care about the most:
Are we watering the fruit or the root? Are we tending to the fruit or the root? Where are we looking, and expecting health to start from – the fruit or the root?
Joy, Peace, Love, Hope, Healing, Bitterness, Jealousy, Envy, (the list goes on and on) are all fruit of the roots within us.
Often when I find my self up against some friction, and this can be emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical, internally with just myself or with another person – I say ‘stop, step back, what’s the root here?’ Most of the time the health and depth of the root system as well as the soil it’s growing in, can be quite obvious — although at times elusive. No matter the amount of information or revelation I have about the root structure, throwing water on the fruit isn’t going to help, it’s just not.
To take this out of the metaphorical tree illustration for a second — mere behavior modification will not ‘fix’ or change (for any length of time anyways) anyone, not our selves, not our loved ones and not our enemies.
Roots are used numerous times in the bible to metaphorically teach about the position and condition of our hearts.
When heart roots are in defective soil, or have not been watered properly, many times we’ll see:
The fruit of bitterness and envy, will show most often from a root of anger.
In turn the fruit of frustration and anger usually come from a root of deep hurt and unforgiveness. And in my experience personally and walking with others, a deep hurt that is pressed down and forced to ‘forget’ or not talk about, because “I’m over it” will exaggerate that frustration, bitterness, anger and envy even more.
The fruit of sexual sin is likely an unhealthy root of identify.
The fruits of arrogance, controlling others, bullying (which is real in children and adults), being overly opinionated, inability to accept help etc. etc.– come likely from a root of pride. Which I do really believe is the root of all evil, you can trace all unhealthy fruit back to roots of pride.
And so on and so forth………
Mean while on the other side of the forest (staying with our tree metaphor):
The fruit of love, joy, peace, meekness, humility, kindness, and over all contentment, is a root of Jesus. Finding our identity in Him and Him alone, surrendering to Him (that means our entire lives), humility before Him, and being rooted and grounded in His Word, equal healthy fruit. When our roots are intertwined, wrapped around and entangled with His plumb line, His Word, so much so that our tree can weather any wind, rain or storm and still stand, THAT is when we see the fruit in ourselves that we’ve only dared envy in others.
I love how the MSG version translates Colossians 2:6-7:
“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”
So the next time you’re frustrated or angry or someone is dealing that way with you, ask yourself ‘what is the root here?’
This will help to step away from your emotions, and look at the root system (not judge it, look at it) and wisely proceed.
Most often when I look at the root, I have more compassion than retaliated anger. And from that place you can assess and partner with the Holy Spirit, to water the root, get it back in good soil (Jesus) and watch the healthy fruit start to grow from there.
Thank you Jesus for dealing with us on a heart level, not just a behavior level, on a root level not just a fruit level.