Growing up in suburbia, I knew very little about life on a farm in general, and nothing in particular about growing fruit trees. But to my Uncle Howard, whose aim was to produce the perfect peach, grafting varieties of peach trees was a science. As a young boy, I watched in wonder as he used his pocket knife to first cut and then splice together the two branches, one from a tree with stronger limbs onto a tree with better fruit. As he predicted, this tree out-produced the others and afforded us many more bites of sweet peaches. In like manner, our spiritual lives have been nourished by the faithful “roots” of those who proceeded us.
- To whom do you acknowledge and give thanks for initiating and sustaining your growth as a believer in the gospel?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 11:16-24 (ESV)
16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing roots of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What attitudes toward the Jews did Paul warn the Gentiles to avoid (vss. 18, 20)?
- What attributes of God did Paul challenge the Gentiles to see through his treatment of the Jews and Gentiles (vss. 21-23)?
- Who is in charge of the grafting in this passage and what are the implications for us?
- Has any pride taken root in your life? What would the appropriate fear described in this passage look like in your life?
RESPOND TO GOD
Using the metaphors of dough that has been offered to and accepted by God as holy, and a tree whose roots are holy, Paul argued that a piece of the dough and a branch from the tree are likewise holy. Continuing the metaphor of the root and branches, Paul explained that God has broken off some of the branches (the unbelieving Jews) and grafted in the branches of a “wild” olive tree (the Gentiles). To counter their arrogance toward the Jews, Paul reminded the Gentile believers that they have benefitted greatly and, thus, owe much to the “root” that nourished them. And to set matters straight, he reminded them that through God’s mercy, not their works, they would produce fruit that is pleasing to God.
- As a believer in the gospel, give thanks to God for extending his mercy to you and including you in his family.
- Thank God for those who have supported your spiritual life.