Root (noun) – the basic cause, source or origin of something
Throughout life we develop certain behaviors and ways of thinking based on learned behavior and experiences. Of course, we can credit genetics to some of these behaviors, but for the most part, our mindset has the greatest influence on who we become. Even our environment will have little to do with where we ultimately end up if we set our minds on something contrary to that atmosphere. We have all heard the stories of people rising above their circumstances and becoming successful. We also know the stories of those who are given every opportunity in the world and they blow all of them. The Bible speaks in great length about cause and effect, or more commonly, roots and fruit.
The example of farming, even for a city dweller, is a perfect illustration of what we allow into our lives and its influence on the way we think, behave and our life’s results. A seed is sown. It is nourished, grown and finally produces a certain kind of fruit. Consider this: If you plant an apple seed in good soil and water that seed, it will produce an apple tree. A tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 12:33). If you are the type of person who exposes themselves to images of love, goodness, charity and kindness, experiencing love from others, you will likely be a very loving person. On the other hand, if all you know is hurt and pain, while being exposed to violent or hateful images, you will likely exhibit behavior that is driven by anger, insecurity and hostility.
Every experience is a seed that can take root in us, if we allow it, or be discarded. What is taking root in your life? It is not always easy to examine your roots, but a good way to analyze roots is to look at your fruit. Can you honestly say you are content with the direction of your life? Are you living in line with the will of God or do you feel stuck in a cycle of disappointment, anger and frustration? Maybe the most direct question I could ask is this: Are you having a positive impact on your community and the world around you or are you just another face in the crowd? I want to be clear that just because you are not “destroying” society does not automatically make your actions positive. There is the gray area of being neutral and indifferent.
The secret to a healthy, purpose-filled and fruitful life is the Word of God, whether you are a Christian or not. God is the creator of ALL people. Therefore, He knows our purpose through and through. Whatever we may believe about Him doesn’t change who He is or His plan for our lives (Heb. 13:8). Someone may believe that flour is not a necessary ingredient for a traditional cake; but I challenge that person to remove flour from the recipe and see how “successful” they are. Likewise, as adults, we may tend to think we are too old to be influenced by things we expose ourselves to, but this is not true. Humans continuously develop throughout life. The process NEVER ends. Proverbs 4:23-27, often called the book of wisdom, strongly advises us to guard our hearts above all else because it is the wellspring of life. It continues by telling us to put perversity from our mouths and corrupt talk from our lips. We should look ahead making level paths for our feet and refraining from evil. In other words, do not waste your time indulging in useless, fruitless and Godless things.
The types of movies and shows we watch matter. The music and conversations we listen to matter. The people we spend time with and the things we spend time doing matter. Healthy roots lead to healthy fruit and a healthy life. To live the life you were meant to have, you must nourish yourself with the Word daily … and live it (John 15:4-5, Romans 7:4-5). Unfortunately, far too many of us are hearing the Word, but it doesn’t get down into our roots and produce results. We spend more time investing in things that do not feed the roots, or worse, rot the roots. We are not considering the role we play in this world. We should be meeting the needs of those who are lost and hurting (Titus 3:14). Christians should be impactful, not merely standing on the sidelines of society blowing hot air and speaking empty words with no results. We have just a short amount of time to live out our purpose and every day we spend just doing “life as usual” is a wasted opportunity to be who we really are … dynamic, powerful, influential and amazing people. We all have a choice to make and each of us will give an account for our lives. You can have good roots and bear good fruit or you can have rotten roots and produce rotten fruit (Matt. 12:33). Your move!
How does the Word work in our lives? No one truly knows all the ends and outs of how God works, but we have ideas based on scripture and experience. As you read the Word, God begins to speak to you. This is not an audible voice, but it’s a knowing or revelation. God is a real living being and desires a relationship with us; so, it is perfectly normal to converse with Him (John 15:15). This is prayer. Contrary to popular belief, prayer is more than just calling on Him in a time of crisis. If you had a friend who only came to you when they needed something, how would that make you feel? That is not a great relationship, is it? Take a leap of faith and forge a friendship with God. You will quickly find that you will want more and more of Him and the sinister desires of your heart will not appeal to you anymore. God gives us new desires when we open up to Him (Psa. 37:4). Of course, this ultimately leads to an improved lifestyle. Let your roots grow down in Him and let your life be built on Him (Col. 2:7). Plant the seed of the Word in the good soil of your heart and your only results will be good roots and good fruit (Luke 8:15). When you change your roots, you change your life.
Kirby N. McKinney