My mother grew up in times both kinder and gentler, but terrible for their poverty—The Great Depression. Her Dad owned a moderate sized farm. He had been mustard-gassed in WWI, and had a pension, so times were not as tough for her family as they were for many. Gardening was learned before there were so many hybrids and as a child, I can recall her doing what she learned as a girl – saving seeds from the best tasting fruit and vegetables for planting the next spring. Hybrids are bred to be at the pinnacle of a number of desirable traits and though seed from hybrid corn will still be corn, it will revert to its lower quality ancestors. Saving seed from a hybrid is fruitless.
Fruit from wild oranges is sour and useless. But they have hardy, disease resistant roots. The well bred flavorful oranges we have come to expect have roots that will not last more than a few seasons. The solution was to graft the tree from the good orange onto the root from the wild orange and create a tree with the best qualities of both. They did this with olives in New Testament times (Rom 11:16-24).
One year when I was “home” to northwest Arkansas, Mom gave me a small orange tree, “because you live in Florida.” I understood that a neighbor had given it to her. I put it in a larger planter, unsure what to do with it as North Florida is not orange country. By the time I tried to do anything, it had rooted through the bottom of the planter and there it still grows by a corner of the shed, partially under a live oak. When the big thorns began to appear, I knew. On a subsequent trip home, I asked and learned that the neighbor had not given Mom a tree, but an orange from a tree that she had cultivated on her enclosed porch. Now, seed from a graft reverts to its roots, not to the trunk and branches that are seen bearing luscious fruit. My mom reverted to her roots and saved the seed from the best tasting fruit, planted it, and gave it to me. I continued to let the wild orange grow, an ironic tribute to my Mom.
What are your roots? Too many who claim to follow Jesus try to graft some good into their lives without changing what they are deep down inside. So, out of them grows ugly fruit, sour and useless as Jesus said, “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” and “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Mt 7:18; Lk 6:45). What passes through your mind when the leader prays, Forgive us our secret sins?” (Psa 19:12). What corruption lies within us that you and I hope that no one ever finds out?
Look to your roots and change them –change who you are. Then you can bear good fruit.
“Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17).
Father, help me to see that the things that I do that are wrong are the fruit of a fundamental wrong within me. Open my eyes to discern the hidden fault. Strengthen my faith and my will to change who I have always been into a new person who will bear good fruit for you.