Over the Christmas holiday season, I bought two small pine trees. Standing in their shiny red pots at the entrance of our home, they made the season just a little merrier as they welcomed our visitors in. But now it is time for those little trees to stretch their roots. There is not enough room in the tiny pots to promote growth. If they stay in their pots they will be stunted and very likely wither and die.
Trees were never meant to be portable. Their roots are supposed to grow down into something much more substantial than a little bit of potting soil. They need to be literally grounded if they are going to thrive.
Grounded: fix firmly; settle or establish; enduring.
A typical tree has hundreds of miles of roots beneath the surface of the ground. They grow every which way in search of life giving moisture and nutrients which are then sent to the branches and leaves above, keeping them fed. This goes for all plants. The deeper and more established the roots, the stronger and more durable the plant. Weak and/or shallow systems create frail branches and lackluster fruit.
God gives some instruction in Leviticus 19 on planting trees that we might find interesting—
“‘When you enter the land and plant any fruit tree, you must consider its fruit to be forbidden. Three years it will be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year, all its fruit will be holy, praise offerings to the Lord. Then in the fifth year you may eat its fruit to add its produce to your harvest. I am the Lord your God.
Oh, man. . .four years before the Israelites could taste the sweetness of their labors!
I have planted fruit trees myself. I love watching for the blooms to turn into fruit. It’s hard to wait for the fruit to grow sweet and ready to eat. I must admit, I don’t think I could postpone indulging until the fifth year rolls around.
But there is science behind God’s instruction.
Fruit production puts a heavy strain on a tree. In the first years after its planting, the tree is putting down roots and sending up branches. To promote growth, fruit should be picked off before it develops so the tree can put more energy into its pipeline to deliver nutrients. With a healthy root and branch system in place, the tree will be much more vigorous in its fruit production.
Perhaps my entire reason for writing about root growth is this—often we find Christians desiring to produce fruit from a less than healthy root structure. They ignore the value of being firmly fixed to God, settled in His ways, and established in His word. They want to bypass the necessity of growing deep into Him.
Jesus says in John 15, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Why? Because He wants our roots to grow, reaching down into the One who will empower the growth of much fruit.
Don’t disregard the importance of what cannot be seen below the surface in our lives.
It is so important to what goes on in plain view. We must reach down deep into God, His ways, and His word. In turn, it will allow us to stand tall and produce fruit that can sustain a world who needs its sweetness.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT