Roots – Good and Bad
In Matt. 13 Jesus shares a parable using the theme of seed being sown in a field. He contrasts different qualities of soil, the wayside, stony ground, thorny ground, and good soil. Each of us, if we are honest in the secret places of our hearts, has known something of each of these. Before I knew the Lord, I was like that first type. The seed didn’t find any place to start. It just bounced off me. Stony ground includes the areas of our hearts that are hard. Jesus says that type of soil starts out well, with joy. Yet that one has no root. When trouble comes, that one stumbles. That one struggles and looks for escape from the trouble. Those are my words, not His, but I have seen it to be true.
When trouble comes, God is after something in us. He locates a hard place and wants us to see it. The process is for us to see our hardness and bring it to Him. As we grow, we learn to put aside the hardness, unforgiveness and bitterness. Paul wrote somewhere for us to put away all anger wrath, clamor and bitterness. The clamor starts in us and if it festers it creates more hardness. In Hebrews, we are told, to not harden our hearts so that we could hear His voice. His voice is that seed. When we do turn away from Him, He lets us go, gives us some rope, so that we learn. The issue is one of the ground in our hearts. It needs to be plowed to expose the rocks. Then the rocks can be removed. Being plowed is never fun.
When trouble comes to us, we often feel the distress and the pain. The hurt and pain can be on many levels. We can fight it, run from it, or turn to God. Sometimes it may be that we need to get away from the source so that we can get with God. I have heard it said that Jesus Himself knew emotional abuse as a child. I can believe that. The Pharisees called Him illegitimate as a man. He probably heard that as a child in Nazareth. And Jesus learned to get off by Himself and pour His heart out to His Father. When the pain comes, we need to seek God. Our nature is to lash out, to give place for our anger to vent. Some sort of destruction is usually the result. We have all known it. Then we have to clean up our mess. I have known that.
When we do not go to God, we blame others and can end up spreading all their weaknesses and failures. Some truth may be in all that but love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Pet. 4:8) Speaking out of our pain and bitterness can cause trouble and divisions. Hebrews 12 is an important passage for us to understand God’s working. Read the entire chapter and let the Lord speak to you. Trouble comes to change us, to cause us to grow. Now focus on Heb. 12:3-15 and hear how submitting to God’s discipline of us affects our relationships. Verse 15 refers to a root of bitterness. The following verse refers to Esau whose life was set to satisfy himself. Very important is that we do not fail of, or come short of, the grace of God. Grace is not to give us an excuse but to provide the strength to pursue peace with all men, even to love those who cause us trouble.
Look again at verse 3 which tells us to turn away from discouragement and weariness of soul. That is where the grace is needed and will help us. In Colossians 2, we are encouraged to walk by His life (vs. 6) as we are rooted and grounded in Him. When we are stumbling and struggling in our troubles, and not walking in love, we need grace and to grow deeper in Him. We need Him to work the soil in our lives and we must allow the pain. Hebrews 12:11 says this. As He turns over the soil in our hearts, we are strengthened by grace. His power and strength are in the grace, not for us to be known as strong and look good, but for us to walk in love.
In closing two other thoughts and scriptures. Eph 3:17 calls us to be rooted and grounded in love and Jude 21 adds to keep ourselves in the love of God. No room is left there for our self-righteousness and anger and bitterness. In His presence is mercy and grace for us and for all our enemies, as they come to Him.