I recently read a devotional by James MacDonald about fruit and roots. And it got me thinking about my own experiences in weeding.
Have you ever pulled a dandelion out of a garden?
You dig and you yank and you finally get that thing out.
Or so you think.
But give it a week or two and it is right back, in the same spot.
Growing exactly where you don’t want it.
Because you didn’t get the root.
Have you ever pulled a weedy thing – a sinful thought or behavior – out of your life?
Asked for forgiveness for something?
Confessed your sin, determined to not do it again?
And then, a week or two later – or an hour or two later – it is right back, in the same spot.
Showing up in your life exactly where you don’t want it.
It’s probably because you dealt with the fruit – but you didn’t get the root.
You asked for forgiveness for snapping at your kids – but you didn’t deal with the simmering anger that led your tongue there in the first place.
You confessed that you once again overate to deal with the emotions you are feeling – but you didn’t deal with the fact that food is the idol in your life, taking the place of God.
You told the Lord you were sorry that your driving behavior was ugly on the way to work – but you didn’t dig out the root, which is a lack of love for others that is driving your behavior.
We all do it.
We deal with what is on the surface in our lives – the things that we can’t ignore any more – but rarely do we address the root of the problem.
Sometimes – perhaps often – that’s because we don’t even realize that the root is there.
We are blind to it.
Not really knowing our own hearts, our own minds.
Not realizing that the fruit that so frustrates us is repeatedly ripening on the same vine, over and over again.
Other times we aren’t blind to it.
We see that there is a problem.
And we really don’t like the fruit.
We confess it and God forgives – but we never see lasting change.
Mostly because we feel like it is unchangeable.
We feel helpless.
So instead of dealing with the root, we operate on a sinful auto-pilot.
“I was born this way.”
“I can’t help it.”
Or, worse yet, we blame someone else for the fruit, naming them as the root of our sinful choices.
“Well, if you knew how he treated me, you would understand.”
“Did you see what she did? She deserves for me to treat her that way!”
However, I am not called to live out his holiness or her walk with God.
I am responsible for my sinful thoughts, attitudes and actions.
Jesus died to take the punishment and I have accepted His work on my behalf, so I will not have to face the ultimate penalty.
But He also came to bring me abundant life.
A life that reflects Him.
Because God says, “Be holy as I am holy.” (I Peter 1)
So I cannot make cheap grace – that wasn’t cheap at all – a reason for blowing off holiness.
Do your toes hurt?
Because I am stomping on mine.
So, what to do?
How do you – and I – deal with the fruit AND the root?
Because WE can’t.
We have to let the Holy Spirit do His job.
He alone has the power to expose the root.
Give us His heart for it.
And then extricate it from our hearts.
So let’s make this practical.
Let’s say that the fruit that you see in your life is an untamed tongue.
You repeatedly say the thing you don’t want to say.
Or use the tone you don’t want to use.
Or fly off the handle verbally.
What steps can you take to get to the root?
First, ask the Holy Spirit to do His job, to give you His heart for your sin.
How does God feel about your mouth? Your words? Your heart?
What does the Bible say about it?
Do some digging there and find out.
After all, He created your tongue for His glory.
So what does He want you to do – or not do – with it?
In this case, you’ll discover He has quite a lot to say about your words and how you use them.
For example, just one verse of many on this topic, from Ephesians 4:
“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].”
After you determine from His Word what the Truth is about your behavior, ask God to show you the root of your sin.
Your quick tongue may be because you have a lake of molten anger simmering just below the surface that you haven’t dealt with.
A person you haven’t forgiven.
A circumstance you haven’t surrendered.
Control you haven’t yielded.
Ask God – He will show you the root.
And once you have identified it, ask Him for the power to remove it.
The power to not watch or listen to the things that feed the root.
The grace to forgive and let go of the grudge.
The strength to rise above your circumstances, trusting Him wholeheartedly.
The grace to let go of the reigns and yield control.
You do not have the strength to pull the roots on your own.
But the “same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you.” (Ephesians 1)
And “He that began and good work in you will continue until Jesus returns” (Philippians 1)
In addition, God has “bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1)
And “those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired.” (Isaiah 40)
Because, every part of this life, and especially our battle with sin is “’not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit’, says the Lord”. (Zechariah 4)
Deal with the root and the sinful fruit has no place to grow.
Better yet, replace that root with time in the Word.
Time in prayer.
Time with God’s people, worshiping Him and lifting Him high.
An accountability partner who knows about the root and the fruit and will pray with and for you as you deal with it.
Deal with the roots of your sin.
Replace them with the things of God.
And watch God replace the bad fruit with the fruit of His Spirit: “…love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, (and) self-control…” (Galatians 5)