Root – Shoot – Fruit

26 05 2015

My rose bush produced the loveliest pineapples this year. Last year, it bore oranges.

Without much thought, you immediately knew that those statements were false. Why? Because what you plant is what you get.

A rose bush will only produce roses. (Unless you’re a genetic engineer who tinkers with this stuff. ūüôā )

This is also true concerning spiritual matters. The fruit we produce is determined by our root…our source of life.

Going back to the two trees from which Adam and Eve could choose, Life or the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I want to explore the fruit each tree bears.

Let’s begin with Evil:

The fruit on this branch of the Tree of Knowledge is guilt and shame. Our behavior gnaws at our conscience. Fear that we will be discovered develops. Unchecked, the conscience will become seared, and eventually we are no longer aware of shame at our core. It is possible that this will continue to spiral into deeper and darker behavior.

Think: Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, or Saddam Hussein.

Ugh! That’s definitely not us. Let’s move on to Good:

The fruit on the “good” branch of the Tree of Knowledge should be much better. Love, joy, peace, and all that.

Surprise! 

The fruit that is produced by¬†our “good” behavior is this:

Self-satisfaction – “I am so good.”

Condemnation – “What they did was bad. They should behave better.”

Judgment – “What they are doing is evil. They should be punished.”

Comparison – “At least I don’t do ______ (fill in the blank) like those people.

Criticism Рmy group is the only one who has Christianity right. They need to behave like we do.

Vigilance – ever watchful of self and others to determine who is good and who is evil.

Social club mentality – carefully screen every person to determine whether they are “good enough” to be in our club. Avoid obvious sinners, lest they make us look “bad” in the eyes of other Christians.

Self-effort – strive to do the “right” thing, avoid the “evil” thing regarding actions and words.

Religion – a checklist by which we prove ourselves to be “good.” ¬†(Went to church – Check. Spent my obligatory time reading my Bible – Check. Spent 15 minutes in prayer – Check. Did a good deed when I didn’t want to – Check… You get the idea.)

Opinionated – due to endless mental effort, I have the answer to every problem. “You’re doing it wrong. Do it my way and all will be well.” When it comes to doctrine and theology, I will fight to the death for my view. I’ve studied my Bible for years and¬†know the (little ‘t’) truth.

 

Of course, if we failed to meet our criteria of what a “good” Christian does, then we feel “bad” and avoid “eye contact” with God, certain that He is displeased with us, certain that punishment is coming.

You can see that love, joy, peace, etc. are nowhere to be found on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As I stated in my previous post,

“Evil¬†and¬†good come from the same root. That root is self.”

The end result of eating from this tree is death.

Here’s our dilemma:

Whenever we choose to ‘live’ by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,¬†we are the judge of what is good…and what is evil.

The determining factor is self.

How does it make me feel? How does it affect me?

In this, we become our own god. Our life is small, for we are the center of our universe. Everyone else exists for our own good pleasure…and they must please us, or risk being judged as “bad” and then rejected.

Sadly, most Christians I know (myself included) live this way.

Is it any wonder that the world isn’t beating down our doors to “get” what we have??¬†

John 15 is full of information about what it means to abide in Christ – the Bread of Life (read that: “Fruit from the Tree of Life):

  • Fruitfulness (love, joy, peace, etc.) – Why do we interpret fruit only as “a big ministry” or “lots of converts”…productivity??
  • Consistent answered prayer – because we have intimacy with Him and He tells us what He is doing…thus showing us how to pray.
  • Confidence that we are loved – no need to hide, fearful of punishment.
  • Full of joy – the burden of controlling the world, getting people to behave better, is lifted from our shoulders!
  • Able to hear His voice, and so know what to do/say/understand in any given situation. We ask Him to explain what’s going on, instead of allowing the enemy to fill in the blanks.
  • Filled with the Spirit – ever present to teach, guide, give insight, and flow through us to reach those around us.

‚ÄúHe who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.‚ÄĚ ¬†~ John 7:38

When we are set free from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and partake from the Tree of Life, true transformation begins. We see others in a new¬†light…and love those we previously judged to be unworthy of our good company. ūüėČ

Further, when we can drop all the self-imposed”duties” required to run the world, we enjoy a lightness that cannot be described. All the mental energy consumed when we were absorbed with how to fix everyone around us left us drained. We come to life when we let the mental gyrations go!

Do not miss that the Tree of Life is all about relationship – with the Lord, and with others.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, on the other hand, mostly destroys relationships – with the Lord (we’re sure we haven’t measured up, and so hide from Him), and also with those who don’t meet our standards.

What I am sharing with you does not originate with me. Consequently, I wish to give credit where credit is due. Since the beginning of April, I have been listening to Bob Hamp’s¬†Foundational Class series. Just five videos – available online at no cost. No signing up, or signing in.

For this “try harder to do better” woman, the message contained within these videos has forever transformed me. (He also wrote a book,¬†Think Differently, Live Differently.)

People are beginning to ask about the changes they see. How cool is that???

Funny, folks¬†didn’t want to know where they could get some of¬†my critical, judgmental, opinionated, argumentative behaviors and attitudes. Seems the world already has enough of those characteristics.

“You shall know them by their fruit.”

By what fruit are you “known?”

***Keep in mind that what I write is “what I did with what I heard” from the Lord through Mr. Hamp’s messages, and not exact quotes from the videos or his book, unless so noted.***





Which Tree Will You Choose?

22 04 2015

In the Garden were two trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

A few years ago, the word knowledge caught my attention. It would seem that prior to eating its forbidden fruit, good and evil existed РAdam and Eve were simply unaware of it. Since the devil was around, this was certainly true. Interesting.

In a way, it seems like¬†these two trees are now resident within us. (Work with me here. This is all new to me, and I’m not likely to put it down as clearly as I’d like! A little grace while I work it all out, okay? ūüôā )

The Tree of the Knowledge is like our old nature. The Tree of Life is like the Spirit that now indwells us.

We are free to choose our source.

When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, everything changed. God was no longer the lens through which they saw things. They became like God, all right. Thereafter, they decided for themselves what was good and what was evil.

As do we.

How do we determine what’s good and what’s evil, though? It depends upon how it makes¬†us feel:

If it makes me happy, and I feel content or satisfied, then it is good.

If it makes me angry, hurt, afraid, or upset in any way, then it is evil.

We pass everything through the filter of our knowledge, our understanding, and our perspective – then label it “good” or “evil” accordingly.

Where this can really get us into trouble (experience speaking here), is when we are faced with a massive test.

Last year, I came up against the granddaddy of all trials. As we are all prone to do, I ran to the Tree of Knowledge to figure out how to handle the thing. I ran through my database, where I’d stored all my vows and agreements:

“No one will ever do … to me again.”

“I will never…again.”

“I’m unlovable. This is all I deserve anyway.”

My source for what to do with all the pain and turmoil was my own history. From my perspective, this was clearly EVIL.

If my heavenly Father truly loved me, He would have protected me.

Checking my database again, I came to the conclusion:

God is not good…

…at least, not to me.

Even He thinks I am worthless or He would have kept me safe.

Because my source for deciding good and evil was my limited knowledge and understanding – and a very warped lens as to what a father is like, I was nearly taken out.

I had expectations of what God should have done.

When He didn’t act according to¬†my understanding, I was hurt and disappointed.

My own database was insufficient, so I consumed volumes of others’ thoughts and conclusions on the matter. I picked from their trees and put it on my own. For eight months, I sifted through tons of information in search of relief.

A Tree of Knowledge is like a lone redwood tree planted in the sand. 

A redwood has very shallow roots that must be intertwined with other trees if it is to stand during a storm. Alone, and in shifting sand, it doesn’t have a chance!

All the while, there stood the Tree of Life, solid as a Rock:

Abide in Me.

Ask Me.

Trust Me.

This last year would have looked very different had I chosen to eat from the Tree of Life, instead of the Tree of (my own) Knowledge. I didn’t know that I could go to the Lord and ask Him to give me His perspective on the matter at hand. I didn’t realize that He wanted to change how I viewed Him, and how I thought about what was going on.

If you hear nothing else, get this:

Our Lord is the only¬† reliable source for every moment of every day. Ask Him often to give you His mind concerning everyday life. You will be surprised at what He shows and/or tells you! There’s the added bonus of His peace that goes far beyond our comprehension. ūüėČ

This, of course, brings to mind one of my favorite verses:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5,6

I’m in a new season now. My source for daily life (and not just when I get into a jam!) is the Tree of Life. I am learning to:

Cast down arguments and every high thing

that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,

bringing every thought into captivity

to the obedience of Christ.

~2 Corinthians 10:5~

All the junk that grows on the Tree of Knowledge, based on our human perception and understanding, is an argument and an high thing that exalts itself against our knowledge of God, and the¬†only¬†source for accurate knowledge of Him…is the Tree of Life.

Choose Life!

***

This is woefully inadequate – a topic that would take many chapters to flesh out. I hope you get the gist of what I shared. ‚̧

***

I’m thankful to Bob Hamp at Gateway Church in Texas for opening my eyes to what I was doing. His foundational classes are worth their weight in gold. You can find them here: http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/freedom/events/foundational-classes