The Invisible Root
Being back in Texas has meant many more trips to my hometown to see family. This has also meant more opportunities to worship at Sunset Church of Christ. One Sunday the lesson in class was on purity, specifically, being pure in heart. The teacher made one statement in particular that is now seared in my mind: we must take care of the invisible root, not just the visible branch.
The invisible root; it is a heart issue.
In a previous post I shared how I have struggled with keeping my tongue in check, concluding that the tongue is a heart issue. Here we are again, back to the heart. When we understand that God is more concerned about our hearts than our actions we are diving deeper in our relationship with him. We live in a culture that wants it yesterday, puts a Band-Aid on a gaping wound, and treats symptoms instead of the real problem. We go to the doctor for stomach pain only to be given a prescription instead of discovering why the stomach hurts in the first place. Too many times I have found my spiritual walk to be annoyingly similar. I evaluate my actions, vowing to not do fill-in-the-blank ever again, never asking why am I doing whatever it is in the first place. I have to look at the invisible root.
And that is where the rubber meets the road. Getting to the root of sin is time consuming. It is painful and often messy. It usually includes confession and accountability, which not only makes us vulnerable but also positions us to answer for our actions even in a weak moment. I have been consumed at times with regret for being accountable to friends. And do you know why? Because then I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing! Sometimes we need an outside perspective and someone who is not emotionally involved to help us clearly see why the root is rotting.
Jesus addresses the Pharisees on this very issue in Matthew 23:25-26: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” He is essentially saying that if we take care of the inside, our hearts, then the visible actions will follow.
The next time you find your actions not measuring up to the standard we are called to as followers of Jesus, look at your heart before anything else. Obviously this is easier said than done. Dive into the Word to see what God says about it. Find a trusted brother or sister to help keep you accountable. Take care of the invisible root and the visible branch will take care of itself.