Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
This is a strong echo of Psalm 1:1-3, which has long been a favorite passage, particularly since in Japanese it has been set to music very delightfully. The image is perhaps not so strong for someone who has never lived in an arid climate (which I haven’t) but it is clear and even scientific. The whole point is that a person who depends on God isn’t destroyed by circumstances. There are many things that seek to tear us down, or at least have that potential, so the matter of roots is vitally important. When our roots are in God and His Word, we have stability and nourishment regardless of external circumstances. This also brings to mind Jesus’ parable of the sower (which I notice is the reading for tomorrow). The major difference in the two images is the depth of the roots. Since grain doesn’t have such deep roots, the soil is of great importance. However, there are trees that thrive even in poor soil, given a water supply, if they have opportunity to get their roots deep enough. The harsher the environment, the more important those roots become. Frankly, the world is going crazy, which is a pretty harsh environment. It is imperative that every child of God get their roots deep in Him and His Word, not being led astray by promises of instant success or no problems, much less by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) God has stability and fruitfulness for those who will put their roots down in Him.
I’ve been having my root system tested over the past few months because of my wife’s health, and a quick look at the news tells me that testing isn’t likely to end any time soon. I have indeed been blessed to develop a strong pattern of seeking the Lord through His Word every morning, and I must not waver from that. As a pastor, I desire this sort of a relationship with God for each of the people in my care, and it is painful to me when they betray the shallowness of their roots. I cannot force them to grow, but I can provide spiritual nutrients and continue to speak the truth in love. Colossians 3:16 (actually, 15-17) is absolutely excellent as a guide for living, but it is the word “admonish” that gives me pause. I don’t like to chew people out, to force them to look at what they are doing wrong, but sometimes that is needed, and failure to do it is less than loving. I don’t have the wisdom or temperament to do it right, so I’ve got to be totally dependent on and obedient to the Holy Spirit. If I will do that, God will use even me to help others put down the roots they need, and together we will bear fruit for our Lord.
Father, as I’ve been reminded a good bit recently, times of growth aren’t always pleasant. Help me not rebel against anything You are doing, but rather put my roots down even further into You, so that I may be an example and an inspiration to as many as possible to do likewise, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!