Tag Archives: Roots

Good Roots

Before last week’s 50th reunion reflections I considered “Those Never-Ending Weeds” and “More About Those Weeds.”

I wrote that there was one more weeds blog to come. This is it. The question that crossed my mind in identifying and uprooting those weeds was “How do I identify and uproot the weeds in my life?”

The answer is “Develop a good root system.” A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth. The prophets repeatedly told the Israelites how to do so. When they spoke to the nation about sin their most frequent opening statement was something akin to “The Lord spoke to me” or “The Lord our God says.” It was their way of reminding God’s people that the only way to identify the sinful weeds was to look at our lives from the eyes and heart of God. Jesus demonstrated this principle during His temptation in the wilderness. Each time Satan tempted Him Jesus responded “It is written…” (Matthew 4:1-11). He evaluated the tempter’s offers through the lens of God’s words. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) He understood that we identify the weeds only when the Word of God has taken root in our hearts. A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth.

When we look at our lives from the perspective of God’s Word we see more clearly that the foundation of most every sin is pride. In my book “7 Habits of Highly Healthy People – Antidotes for the 7 Deadly Sins” I pointed out, “As William Barkley wrote, ‘Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow.’ Think about it. Pride grows:

Envy – we are unable to permit the success or excellence of another
Anger – we cannot tolerate those who frustrate our plans, purposes, and desires
Greed – we need to possess more to be worth more and impress more;
Lust and Gluttony – we need to satisfy ourselves (or escape from ourselves)
Sloth – we lack love for ourselves and others

Pride is at the root of all of these sins. Pride is a powerful sin… “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.””(Proverbs 16:18)

Only when we have a good root system deep within our hearts can we spot our pride that leads to other sins. So with the Psalmist we need to hide the word within our hearts. The author of Hebrews described the dynamic vividly when he wrote “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I’m learning how to identify and somewhat control the weeds in our yard and garden. In doing so I’m also re-learning how to do the same in my life. I’m recommitting myself to hiding the Word in my heart that I might not sin. A good root system will do the job.                           As Psalm 1:1-3 paints the picture: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Good roots – blessed life. Sounds like a plan.



A Picture is Worth …

The old English idiom states “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So take a look.

Hollow Tree_0501                                          

Now not a thousand but a few words. A hollow tree will eventually fall. With no inner strength there is no outer strength. Storms and winds will ultimately prevail.

What’s true for trees is true for people as well. If we are hollow on the inside, we will eventually succumb to the storms and winds. That’s why the Psalmist declared “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3). Since character is not made but rather displayed in crisis, God is less concerned with how high we climb than He is with how deeply we’ve dug our roots. As Charles Spurgeon once said, we must penetrate below the soil and reach the secret fountains of grace. Since Satan’s ploy is to keep us shallow we must take the time and faithfully attend to the discipline of planting roots. The real question is, what would be left if you were cut off from everyone and everything? Would your roots run deep enough into Christ that you could withstand? Whether you survive tough times depends on the state of your discipline.

In the movie Karate Kid, young Daniel asks Mister Miagi to teach him karate. He agrees with one condition—Daniel must submit totally to his instruction and never question his methods. Daniel agrees and shows up eager to learn. But Miagi has him paint a fence, demonstrating the precise motion to use; it takes Daniel days to finish the job. Then Mr. Miagi tells him to scrub the deck using a prescribed stroke; again, it takes days to finish the job. Daniel wonders what this has to do with karate but keeps quiet. Next, Mr. Miagi instructs him to wash and wax three weather-beaten cars, again with a prescribed motion. With that, Daniel reaches his limit: “I thought you were going to teach me karate, but all you have done is have me do your unwanted chores!” He’s now broken the one condition, and Miagi’s face pulses with anger: “I’ve been teaching you karate! Defend yourself!” He thrusts his arm at Daniel, who instinctively defends himself with an arm motion exactly like that used in one of his chores. Miagi kicks, and same thing happens. Several more times, the same thing happens. Miagi simply walks away, leaving Daniel to discover that skill comes from repeating seemingly mundane but correct actions.

Spiritual disciplines develop in us the strength and skill to survive the tough times. I encourage you to evaluate your daily schedule and activities. How much time do you spend in intentional contact with God through prayer, Bible reading, fasting, or serving? Are your roots deep enough that you are strong on the inside? Is what’s on the inside strong enough that you are able to withstand the storms and winds?

Jesus painted a similar picture. “To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears” (Matthew 12:33 GNT). Do you want to be known for good fruit, no matter the circumstances? Develop your roots.

NOTE: My book, “When the Going Get Tough…” has a chapter on how Joseph developed the spiritual disciplines that made his life “a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.” For more information visit www.revcpikk.com.