Take Root, Bear Fruit
If you want to bear fruit upward, you have to first take root downward.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Americans are good at many things, and we have many lovely qualities, but one thing we’re NOT known for is our patience…just drive in rush hour and it’ll become quickly apparent
And if anything technology has made our patience problem worse.
Are you just dying to know some useless trivia fact?
You don’t have to wait until you get the library next, you can instantly google it!
Wondering what an old high school friend is up to nowadays?
NO need to wait 4 years until your next reunion, simply look them up on Facebook!
Wanting to purchase something obscure?
No need to travel around to every store in MN, just find it on Amazon, and Prime will have it to your house in 2 days!
We live in an instant gratification, fast food, hot pocket sort of world.
And a lot of that is really cool, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help us with our patience.
And more importantly, we’re slowly losing our desire to put effort into the things that take time, but in the end, will produce something better.
We want quick fixes and instant results.
Much has been written about this lately, especially as it relates to the younger generations.
Many college graduates instantly want to be rewarded by their new employers with the same promotions, pay, and thus be able to purchase the size of house, etc. that their own parents worked 20 years to get
In summary, we want results without the work.
And we don’t have the patience anymore to work to get results.
WE DON’T MAKE THE FRUIT
I suspect sociologists and others will write much more about this in the years to come, but there’s much we can already say about its parallels and challenges to our spiritual life.
For one, as we finish our Rooted series today: Is it possible that we are trying to get spiritual results (or we would maybe just call it “change”) in the same way?
By rushing through it?
And how does one actually change?
All throughout this series, we’ve been using the metaphors of roots and fruit.
Based off of the Apostle Paul’s assertion that if we are in God…God will grow fruit in us
(Galatians 5:22-23) – NIV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
But today, I want to dissect this a bit further.
Who actually grows the fruit?
How does it grow?
Almost 100 years ago now, the late Samuel Chadwich astutely observed this:
"Work belongs to the workshop; fruit belongs to the garden. One (work) comes from the ingenuity of the factory; the other (fruit) is the silent growth of an abounding life. The factory operates with dead stuff; the garden cultivates a living force to their appointed end. Works are always in the realm of dead things. Every building is built out of dead material ... Fruit does not come of man's labor. It requires his diligence, but it is neither his invention nor his product. He does not make the flowers. No skill of his brings the golden harvest of the fields or the lush fruit of the trees. When man has done all he can do, then God begins and life proceeds. Fruit is God's work. The phrase 'fruit of the Spirit' assigns the graces of the Christian character to their proper source. They are not of man's producing." – Samuel Chadwich
Here’s what he’s getting at:
If you want God to change your life…God is the one who’s actually going to bring about the change in character…not you.
(John 15:4) – NIV
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say, you’re holding a lot of bitterness against a family member (a parent…or a sibling maybe)
But you want your heart to change from bitterness to forgiveness.
To have your heart inclined towards forgiveness is for spiritual fruit to grow in your life.
But you can’t do that on your own.
We’re naturally sinful.
Always magnetized by sin.
If you just keep saying, “next time I see them, I’ll think better of them…” it’s probably not going to work.
But now that God is in your life, HE can change you…grow fruit.
Let me give you an example of how “taking root” works:
If you can consistently be praying and thinking about God’s forgiveness of you, God will start to change your heart to understand forgiveness and eventually, He’ll make you more forgiving of others
But HE grows that fruit.
IF YOU TAKE ROOT, YOU BEAR FRUIT
And this is one of the most important principles of spiritual growth.
If you want to remember it, just think of it this way:
If you take root, you bear fruit.
In the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible), when God’s people (the people of Judah) were being besieged by the Assyrians (they’re trapped in Jerusalem w/o food) and they thought there was no hope…God said this to them:
(2 Kings 19:30) - NIV
Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
God’s saying something really important here…something He’ll says a FEW times throughout the Bible.
If you really want to bear fruit above…you’ve got to first build roots down below.
The strategy to a changed life is not to focus so hard on changing your own life, but to dive down into Him, and let God change your life in his timing!
Your focus isn’t on bearing fruit.
Your focus is on taking root.
The branch doesn’t say, “I’m going to grow fruit”
The root makes it happen, and the branch just bears it.
You’re not going to fix your battle with anger by just being hyper focused on it.
If you, the branch, spend all your time trying to grow the fruit of self-control (as opposed to anger)…here’s what’ll happen:
You’ll try so hard to not get angry…that when you even mess up the slightest bit, you’ll get frustrated at yourself for not being perfect, and get…even more angry!
That’s not spiritual growth at all.
You grow, not by being a branch trying to grow fruit on your own, but by being rooted in God.
You take root, then bear fruit.
You start surrendering your anger to Him.
You start reading what the Bible says about anger
You start praying and talking with Him every day about what’s going on.
You’re taking root BELOW, so you can grow fruit ABOVE.
(Colossians 2:6-8) – NIV
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Explain as you go)
IT TAKES TIME FOR FRUIT TO GO
By my observation though…it seems like few Christians take this route when pursuing change in their lives.
I think many are perhaps, at least somewhat familiar with the concepts, but we just don’t roll it out that way in our lives.
And that goes back to where we started.
I think a lot of us just don’t have the patience for “root growing”
We want to skip right to the fruit…the life change stuff.
And, so I’ve seen Christians, time and time again, declare that they’ve been a Christian for 5 years, 10 years, and they’re not really changing anymore.
And what they really should be saying, “Is there’s not changing fast enough to their liking!”
And what’s most likely happened is that they gave up on the root growing years ago, and have been independently trying to pop out fruit from their branch, unsuccessfully, for the last decade.
But if you do this right, like the Bible encourages us to…it works.
But let’s remember the metaphor…because it’s helpful in more ways than one:
If you actually plant a tiny, little fruit tree in your yard, it’ll take 3-6 YEARS into the life of that tree, before it bears fruit for you.
You can’t plant an apple tree, and get apples the next day.
Which was intuitive to our great-grandparents, but infuriating to us!
It’s not that the tree isn’t doing anything in those 3-6 years either!
Yeah, you don’t see anything happening on the surface, but under the ground, the tree is establishing roots that will be the source for productive fruit growing for years to come!
Most of the things in your life that have produced great results have taken time:
You went to school, many of you, for a long time…and maybe now are reaping the results of that.
You rooted yourself in education…in training for your field.
God has done a lot in my life since I’ve been following Him.
I’m 34 years old now.
I started following Jesus when I was 18.
I started to take root in Him, and he began to bear fruit…but it’s a process.
Before I was a Christian, I disliked a whole lot of people…and got angry at a whole lot of people.
I still had moments in college, where I just cussed people out in anger right to their face.
And I was following Christ.
God was working, but it’s a process.
You’re going to need some grace along this journey.
And now…15-some years later…thankfully for you all, that’s not happening anymore.
And it’s not JUST because God taught me about grace, but also because he’s growing the fruit of grace in me.
But not automatically…it’s because every time I take root, he bears fruit.
In His timing.
Will you trust the process?
There’s an old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree…was 20 years ago. The second best time, is now”
Will you trust the process that if you take root below, you will bear fruit above?
WHAT ARE THE BEST ROOT-GROWING HABITS?
So if you’re unfamiliar with this, what does it look like to focus on taking root instead of trying to grow fruit…yourself?
Because everything in secular psychology and self-help today, is focused on YOU growing the fruit…YOU changing your life.
What we’re talking about today, is a reversal in that sort of thinking.
It’s an admission of, “I do not have the power to change my life, but if I root myself in Him, He will grow fruit”
How do you do that?
I’ll be honest with you: it’s not complicated.
Most Christians just lack the discipline and patience for it.
It’s about being serious about reading the Bible every day…so you’re grounded in God…not just ideas from what everyone thinks on social media.
If you’re stuck right now, and you haven’t been reading…or you’ve never started reading.
Pick up one of our Bible reading plans in the hallway…or they are on our Renovation App as well.
If you need a Bible, take the one under your chair today.
That’s our gift to you.
Next week, we’ll be resuming our series on the Letter of James.
If you’re looking for a place to read this week, perhaps start there!
When you’re planted in the Bible, you grow fruit:
(Psalm 1:1-3) – NIV
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
I tell you what…the people that I know…that look like Jesus much more than me…to a person…they are root growers.
They spend a lot of time with Jesus…and in His Word.
You gotta spend time with Jesus to look like Jesus.
There isn’t a short cut to this.
You take root in Him by talking to Him every day.
Not just randomly, but set a time.
If you want to get serious about this, before the sun goes down today, I want you to tell someone what your plan is to meet w/ God this week.
Or tell someone in your House Group this week.
Which is another great way to take root in God.
You get serious about putting other Christians around you to help you grow, challenge you, encourage you, support you.
If you’re not in one of our House Groups yet.
Sign-up on your app right now, or in the hallway after the service.
This is the perfect time to start.
We had 221 adults sign up in the last few weeks.
Why are so many people doing it now?
Because it works.
You take root, you bear fruit.
If you signed up, but didn’t make it the first week…no worries.
It’s not a big deal at all. Don’t let that get in the way of your growth…come this week.
We are now in Week 3 of our 3-Week Challenge…and my hope/my prayer is that God has started to awaken your heart and whet your spiritual appetite for more of Him.
And my new challenge to you…is to keep coming. Keep seeking Him.
Don’t give up now. This is a process. And a good one.
God is just getting started in your life!
Long-term Christian growth doesn’t occur in 4 quick & easy steps.
It’s not flashy.
It’s kind of like growing roots.
Most of it happens where no one can see.
In your room at night…
Or when you wake up early…
Or by yourself on your commute…
I read a helpful example of this from Bill & Pam Farrel, who are Marriage experts and Christian authors and speakers.
Here’s what the wrote:
“We often have couples say to us, “We want a marriage like yours.”
Then we begin to explain some of the traditions, habits, and choices we have made to have a marriage that is happy (and, at the writing of this book, has been successful for 32 years!).
We encourage them to have a daily quiet time with God so God can speak to them on how to be the best spouse, parent, and person possible.
Then we explain the benefits of layering in good training by attending church, and a small group….
We elaborate on the need for marriage conferences, listening to Christian radio, podcasts, and other forms of media so you have a steady intake of God’s view of how relationships work.
The response we get about 50 percent of the time is, “Oh, we don’t have time for all that!”
And our reply is, “You can give time early and prevent issues, or you can give more time later because you have issues.
You will give time.
Pay now or pay later, but you will pay.”
We just prefer to pay our time in preventing problems and issues.”
We know this is true too.
If you feel like your spouse is just really angry or insensitive all the time…and yet they say to you tonight, “Honey, I know I’ve been super sharp and insensitive the last 5 years, but I’ve committed to change. From now on, I will be the nicest person you’ve ever met”
You KNOW…instinctively…that’s not how change works…that’s not how fruit grows.
You’ve got to take root, to bear fruit!
You want to start being a better parent…not much is going to change if you just “try harder”
You’re a branch; you can’t just pop out fruit.
Start talking to Jesus about it…dig your roots down deeper.
You want to start feeling less anxious…less depressed…
It won’t go away by just thinking happy thoughts
Start studying what God’s Word says about it.
Start trusting in God for your joy.
Start digging down roots.
And trust the process…even if it takes years.
Because it might.
And is that okay?
DON’T FORGET THE PROCESS
What if you don’t see fruit for a number of years?
And, maybe better yet, WHY is that so often we don’t see fruit for years?
I think a lot of seasoned Christians forget how God works once they’ve been walking with Him for a number of years.
And so I want to give you two reasons why I think Christians often don’t see any fruit for long periods of time
The first is our fault…and the second is all about God’s timing
Let’s start with the first:
If you’ve been a believer in Jesus for some time…while this topic may be a concept you are familiar with, I believe many seasoned Christians have truly forgotten how the process works.
It can be explained by a simple principle that’s true in many spheres of life:
Discipline creates abundance, but abundance, unless watched very closely, destroys discipline…which then destroys abundance. – LEAVE UP for a while
Let me explain by recapping the summary of Rocky 3…and every other sports sequel ever made
Rocky had just beat Apollo Creed…he’s now the champion…he’s famous…and he’s rich too.
His discipline (all his hard work and training)…has created abundance for him.
But what do we do when we reach the top (in any sphere)?
We get lazy.
We stop punching meat in the butcher’s shop.
And Rocky starts losing fights…to Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
In fact, I just read an article on ESPN this week about what’s called, “Championship Hangover”
It talked about how the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA finals in June, and how the players have kept watching their Game 7 victory on TV over and over this summer…and the article says, “What usually happens to champions, is that they lose their passion and desire once they are on top”
And the only way to get it back…is to get back to punching meet at the butcher…like Rocky…again.
Back to where it started…into training.
And a really similar thing happens for Christians:
They put the work in…and start taking root in God.
They’re reading their Bibles a lot at first…talking to God…and guess what??
Pretty soon, God starts growing fruit…He’s changing them!
Discipline creates abundance…but abundance is hard to manage.
And so most Christians, start feeling better than ever…but in their abundance of fruit…they forget what got them there in the first place.
Some Christians start taking credit for the change (“Well, I’ve been working hard!”)
Others, get satisfied with what God’s done and simply stop working, (Well, I’m not doing drugs anymore…so I guess I reached my goal)
And many others stop bearing fruit because they simply “get above” having to “dig roots in the dirt”
They say, “Ugh…another message about having a quiet time, reading the Bible, etc…. Lame. I wish they would tickle my ears with a fancy new Bible teaching I’ve never heard!
And so we stop doing what got us to where we were in the first place…even though God still has SO much more He wants to do!
And so God stops making fruit.
Because when we stop taking root, you won’t bear fruit.
If this is you…get back to the basics again.
You can’t grow fruit yourself.
Get rooted in God.
Let me ask you right now: What do you need to do TOMORROW to start this up right again?
Back to “Take Root, Bear Fruit” title slide
But I said there were two reasons why I think Christians often don’t see any fruit for long periods of time.
One was that they experience change…but forget how it actually happened.
That’s the version that’s our fault.
But the second reason that sometimes fruit takes a long time to grow is a part of God’s plan.
You know, a lot of times, most of the time, God doesn’t just instantaneously heal you…or fix you…because if He did…ironically, you wouldn’t learn to trust Him.
You’d be like the ten lepers whom Jesus healed, and only one came back to thank Him.
When God tends to fix things quickly, the one thing we often don’t learn is how to lean on Him when times are hard…especially when they’re hard for the long haul.
And see, God is trying to grow fruit in you, not just wow you with pizzazz
He wants to form you in such a way, so that when the storm comes, when the drought comes, your roots will be so deep that you’ll stay anchored in Him, still growing fruit, no matter what.
And often, the only way to do that…is to first teach you how to depend on Him in the season when all you’re doing is taking root…but not yet growing fruit.
It’s in that season that we learn how to depend on Him, not for what He GIVES us, but because of who we learn Him to be.
If all God did was immediately answer your prayers and immediately change you, you would only seek fruit…not Him.
And so often, the process of taking root takes time because God wants to show you something even greater than fruit…Himself.
Your relationship with Him
So my encouragement to you today…this week…is to stop trying to pop out all of the fruit and life-change yourself.
Get back to the ground floor, and start putting your roots down in Him again.
It’ll take time, it’ll sometimes be hard.
But it’s the only way and the best way to really see life change
And it’s by far the best way, to see the best thing of all, Him.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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