Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting to the root of the problem

Roots can be troublesome to sewer lines, sidewalks, and foundations. They can block what shouldn’t be blocked, break up what shouldn’t be broken, and weaken what’s supposed to be strong.

Roots can rot whatever they takeover. On the other hand, plants that are well-rooted are strong, healthy, and fruitful.

Are you well-rooted or being rotted by a root?

Being rooted, but not in-rooted

A rooted person is someone who is considered to be grounded, firmly established, solid. A grounded person exhibits positive characteristics. They are able to withstand the storms of life and still be fruitful.

A fruitful person is one who shares of their life, makes positive contributions to society, who gives with no expectation of getting back.

David, the Psalmist, referred to this kind of person saying, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3. NIV).

In Colossians 2:6-7, the Apostle Paul encourages us, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Being rooted is a good thing.

Being in-rooted, but not rooted

There’s a flipside to being rooted which is destructive; being in-rooted. To be in-rooted is sort of like having an infected ingrown toenail in your heart. Or, if it were possible, a tree planted with limbs down and roots up.

An in-rooted person is upside down, inside out, and just all wrong.

In Hebrews, we are cautioned, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15, NIV).

This “bitter root” refers to extreme wickedness, producing a bitter fruit, and exhibiting bitter hatred.

Being in-rooted with a heart of bitterness destroys us and “defiles many” around us. To be ingrown with bitterness means that we have missed the grace of God which can be seen in the lack of grace we extend to others.

The poison fruit of graceless bitterness is unquenchable anger, persistent clinging to grudges, noxious blaming of others, and the sickening nursing of infected wounds.

Bitterness fills the heart like pus.

A bitter heart never forgives, never seeks reconciliation, never accepts responsibility. It is thoroughly anti-grace and anti-love.

A rooted person is a loving person

Paul provides us with the ultimate description of a rooted, loving person in the well-known love passage of 1 Corinthians 13:1-8:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Being in-rooted with bitterness is the antithesis of love. Bitterness always betrays, always doubts, and always gives up on everyone around them. It is self-seeking, easily angered, keeping an endless record of wrongs, and delights in evil and revels in lies.

A person in-rooted with bitterness is not a pretty person. They can look as craggy on the outside as a cracked sidewalk.

You’re not a tree or a sidewalk

A tree does not choose where it is planted and sidewalks can’t defend themselves against roots.

But we can choose.

If you are allowing a root to grow in you, it’s going to break you apart and destroy you, just like the root of a tree will destroy a sidewalk.

If you are choosing to be rooted in the Lord, then you will stand firm, providing shade and fruit and a positive environment for those around you.

Psalm 92:12-15 says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

Let God’s grace flow through your life. It will kill the bitter root in your heart while at the same time nourish your roots of faith, causing them to go deep into the soil of His righteousness.


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