Author: Ron Graham
Root and Fruit
—Take root downward, bear fruit upward
In this age of short cuts and quick fixes, we sometimes forget the principle that roots have to be established downwards before fruit can be borne upward.
Isaiah foretells how the kingdom of Judah would be like a tree cut down to a stump, but this remnant would make roots and branches again and bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1-2, 27:6). Our text for this lesson is another passage in Isaiah which expresses the same hope...
“The remnant of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward”.
Isaiah 37:31-32, cf 2Kings 19:30
1 The Principle of Root and Fruit
This passage recognises a simple principle which, if we would be wise and successful, we must understand very well, and put into practice. The principle is that you have to "make root downward" before you can "bear fruit upward".
- We observe this principle in nature. One buys a fruit tree and plants it. For a long time nothing seems to happen. Yet under the ground, unseen by us, the plant is making root. Give the tree a season to make root downward, and then it will grow upward and bear much fruit.
- We practise this principle in daily life. We save before we buy. We study for a career. We do market reseach before we sell. We draw plans before we build. We train before we climb a high mountain.
- We should practise this principle spiritually. Before we can produce the fruits of the Spirit, we have to put down roots in the Spirit. The Christian with shallow roots will not bear fruit, as Jesus teaches in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9). We will develop this thought a little later in this lesson.
2 Evil’s Rotten Root and Fruitless Blossom
In the Days of David, there had been a depth to the kingdom. There was justice, faith, humility, rather than corruption, idolatry, and hypocrisy. In Isaiah's time the good king Hezekiah had the same depth. He was a man of prayer, his faith was deep rooted in God.
In general, however, the kingdom had lost its roots. Its people had gone back into wickedness. How often they are condemned for this in the book of Isaiah. In chapter five for example, the principles on which the wicked operate are listed and Isaiah says, "Their root will become like rot, and their blossom will blow away as dust, for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts..." The wicked have rotten roots, and their blossom does not set fruit (Isaiah 5:18-24).
3 Being Deep Rooted and Fruitful Today
The metaphor of root and fruit is fitting for us as Christians. The shallow-rooted Christian and the shallow-rooted church will wither and die. We need to fulfill the word of Isaiah, "take root downward and bear fruit upward" (Isaiah 37:31).
- Nourished in the words of faith and sound doctrine (1Timothy 4:6).
- Praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
- Rooted and Grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17-19).
- Rooted and built up in Christ (Colossians 2:7).
- Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Fruitful in every good work (Colossians 1:10, Isaiah 3:10).