If The Root Is Holy

If The Root Is Holy

Romans 11:16

If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

I took some time to read commentaries by biblical scholars and theologians in regards to this verse.  All of them seemed to deal with civilizations, tribes, congregations, etc..  They were all saying this verse could refer to the church, meaning Christ was the first fruit, the root, thus making the early Christian church holy.  Some of them also referred to the Jews, going back to Abraham as being the first fruit.  And some referred to the Gentiles, who through their acceptance of Christ were the first fruit and were made holy.

I took this on a more personal level, which is how I tend to treat the whole Bible.

Much of what I read by scholars and theologians deals with the Bible as a history book, which it is.  Many of the theologians seem to use it as if it is a corporate manual, telling them how to setup their organizations.

But after reading through the Bible a number of times I have found it to be a personal life manual, an instruction book on what you can expect and how to handle it.

So this is what Paul is saying to the Romans.

If at your core, at your very base as a person, if you truly want to be righteous and do what is right, then your actions and decisions will be right, they will be righteous.

“…if the root is holy, so are the branches.”

I’m not saying with this righteous core everything you do will be right.

We all know no one is perfect.  Like a tree you need to trim the branches, remove the dead and non- producing limbs.  You need to trim the branches that are growing in a way that hinders the overall growth of the tree.

Sometimes you may let the tree go and not keep up with the maintenance required to have it produce to its maximum ability.  The tree becomes unsightly and its production is stifled by deadwood and branches that utilize the vital nutrients but produce nothing.

But if the roots are good, if the tree has an established, strong, root system you can trim the tree back to its trunk and it will again start to produce branches to be properly pruned and produce the sweetest of fruits.

Paul is telling the Romans, and Paul is telling me, if your core principles are right and strong, if at the heart of yourself is a true desire for righteousness, no matter how far you stray, you can always prune it back.  You can remove all the sin, the distractions or worldly desires and return to your roots.  You can return to righteousness and be saved.

Or as I like to say, you can save yourself.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Simply What’s Right In Your Heart

Simply What’s Right In Your Heart

Romans 2:13

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

The above verse is from Paul’s letter to the Romans and another piece that confirms my faith in the simplicity of Christ and God.

The law is what you know in your heart is right.  What is right, the right thing to do, is placed in your heart by the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

An Idle Life

An Idle Life

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

In this letter to the Thessalonians Paul is addressing something that Solomon had said thousands of years before.

In all the things that man can do and occupy his mind, in all things man can chase, all that really is important is your toil, being happy in your toil, your work.  For as Solomon said, all else is vanity and striving after wind.

But Paul is also addressing two other aspects of an idle life.

The first, as he already stated in other letters to the Church, is self responsibility, earning your keep in life, earning your own way, not on the backs of others.

There is no free ride in life, not for the righteous.

Paul is telling his fellow followers of Christ, you are responsible for yourself.  You are responsible for making your way in life.  You are responsible for feeding, clothing and educating yourself.  You are responsible for fulfilling your life.  Through this work of taking care of yourself you strengthen your relationship with God and truly begin to realize what King Solomon was talking about.

You realize how all that truly matters is your toil and being happy in your toil, eating the fruits of your labor, drinking the fruits of your labor and being happy in what you do.

The other point that Paul is addressing in these verses is idleness and what it leads to.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

Paul knows this and is telling the Thessalonians and us as much.

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness not busy at work, but busybodies.

Paul knows that when we are bored we tend to get involved in things we shouldn’t.  We stray to easy fixes, things that may temporarily make us feel good about ourselves.  We stray to things that are quick and easy, things that lack substance or a foundation for building a righteous and happy life.

Paul calls them busybodies.  He could be referring to idle people who spend their days meddling in the problems and sorrows of others.  People who then use their self righteous, moral judgements to lift themselves up.

And he could mean busybodies, people just wandering through life not seeking a relationship with God or themselves.  People who busy their entire life looking to get out of their toil, looking for others to blame and pave their way through life.  People busy looking to avoid work, honest hard work, whether it’s work to earn their food and shelter or work to improve themselves and their relationship with God.  They’re just busy trying to avoid work.

Paul sums it up in verse twelve:

Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and earn their own living.

Paul is saying to be responsible for yourself, take care of yourself and take care of your relationship with God, they all work together.

Eat, drink and be happy in your toil, all else is vanity and a striving after wind.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

All Things Are Yours

All Things Are Yours

Corinthians 3:18-23

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

I thought this was a nice follow up to my previous post “Biblical Teamwork”.

Romans 12:3-9 was the first reference that I had found in the Bible to teamwork, it was Paul’s first reference to synergy. I’m sure when I do my next read through of the Bible I’ll be looking for earlier and more subtle references but for now it’s the first time it clicked for me. Continue reading

Paul Knows About Paying Dues

Paul Knows About Paying Dues

Romans 5:3-5

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

This is a verse to read when you are going through some tough times.  I wrote it down on a piece of paper many years ago.  I wrote it down during a time when the frustration and stress of my job was literally starting to kill me.

I had a piece of notebook paper where I copied inspirational and comforting verses from the Bible.  I kept this piece of paper in my front pocket and carried it with me throughout the day.  I would take it out of my pocket and read the verses, especially when the stress levels were rising.  Reading them would calm me down just a bit.

I carried this piece of paper for over a year.

It was folded and unfolded so many times from reading it and adding new verses to it that the folds in the paper had started to come apart.

Then one day my cherished piece of paper was gone. Continue reading

Do Not Be Deceived – Peer Pressure

Do Not Be Deceived – Peer Pressure

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

I have written about Paul as a team builder.  I guess you could say Paul spent his time going around putting together a team of believers.  In this verse Paul is addressing something we all experience throughout our life, peer pressure.

Peer pressure is tremendous when we are young and in school.

We develop our social circles and want to be accepted.  We want to be a part of something.

Maybe we conform to fit in with the “normal” kids, or maybe we rebel or gravitate to the “weird” and “strange”.

But no matter which way we go we end up accepting the moral standards of the crowd we choose. Continue reading

The Righteous Shall Live By Faith

The Righteous Shall Live By Faith

Romans 1:21-23

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things..

In verse 17 Paul writes:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The righteous shall live by faith.  So very hard to do. Continue reading