Jesus illustrates faith to us by using the parable of the mustard seed.
Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV)
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Faith can start of as small as a mustard seed, but it has the potential to grow into a beautiful and massive tree. We will get into more detail about how we can grow from a tiny little seed into a great big tree, a little bit later.
A few weeks ago, I was reading Isaiah and God gave me this verse to illustrate something so simple:
“Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.”
Strengthen your stakes and lengthen your chords to me means that I have to strengthen my foundation, I have to strengthen my anchors and be deeply rooted in God. This is the only way I can enlarge my tent and grow my tree bigger. A tree needs a very good root system to anchor it, so that when the winds and storms come, it can stand firm and not be moved. The stronger and deeper the roots, the more unshakeable the tree will be.
This is what faith is – strongly rooted, firm belief, no shadow of a doubt and an unshakeable knowing in God.
Let’s look at trees and what they need in order to grow in more detail. What are the basic things a tree needs to live? Good ground/soil and water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. All of these things work together in order for the tree to grow, make leaves and bear fruit.
Here is how I see it:
Soil: Trees get their nutrients and water through the soil. The soil also serves as a foundation/support system for a tree. The deeper a tree’s roots are, the stronger it will be and the firmer it will stand. God is our foundation and the deeper our roots in Him are, the stronger we will be through Him who gives us strength. He is our support system and will never leave us, nor forsake us. He is everlasting. Good soil is also touched on in the parable of the sower Matthew 13:1-9. Jesus explains the parable in Matthew 13:18-23 – being rooted in good soil means we need to know the Word of God and understand it.
Seeds also need water in order to grow that it gets through the soil – God is the source of living water and what better way to get water than from God Himself! We can get water by going to church and listening to others, but the best way is to plant and grow our roots directly into the living water and spend time with God directly. The deeper a tree’s roots are, the deeper it can get water, so that in times of drought, only the trees with very deep roots can still get water when underground water levels are very low. We need the living water directly from God – grow your roots in God so deep that you get water directly from Him! We can grow from within God (from under the ground – our inner room) towards the outside to bear the fruits that God had promised us.
Sunlight: Trees need sunlight in order to direct the tree’s direction in which it grows. Have you ever seen a plant that is in doors, and the light only comes from one side? That plant will then gradually grow in the direction of the light. Jesus is the light of the world, He gives us direction and shows us in the Bible how to live our lives. He is our Saviour, for without light a tree will become bleak and will slowly perish.
Carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide is what people breathe out. When God made Adam He breathed His Spirit into him. So the carbon dioxide that God breathes out is the Holy Spirit. Trees need carbon dioxide in order to photosynthesise – more about this process below:
The process of photosynthesis is a very important process for trees and plants to create ‘food’. There are 4 components that are of vital importance in order for this process to take place:
- Carbon dioxide
All four of these components are needed, otherwise the process cannot be completed. The process takes place in the chlorophyll cells in the trees’ leaves where light gives the energy for the water and the carbon dioxide to start the chemical process in order to release oxygen back into the atmosphere and to produce sugars that is stored in the leaves. The trees use the sugars as ‘food’ in order to grow and it also serves as food and shelter for animals. (Please note that this is not by any means a scientific explanation and that it is only for illustration purposes.)
We are the trees and therefore the chlorophyll cells, we have to let the water, light and the carbon dioxide in – make the choice to let God into our lives. As mentioned above God is the living water that we get from growing our roots deep into Him by spending time to get to know Him more, and by growing our faith. Jesus is the light that is our Saviour and gives us direction so that we know which way to grow and to give us energy. The Holy Spirit is the carbon dioxide that we soak up and invite to stay inside of us.
The oxygen that is released is the evidence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives – it is God’s aroma that is released into the world. The oxygen is how we live and the things we do – not because we benefit from it, but because we simply cannot help but to give honour and praises to God for all He is! Not because of who we are, but because of who God is, and through the Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit convinces people, we just have to be the vessel for God, a vessel to produce God’s aroma through the oxygen the Holy Spirit releases through us. This is what people notice and may not know how or why, but they just know there is something there and this is something they also want.
The sugar that is in the leaves that the tree needs in order to grow is the ‘food’ we get from having an intimate relationship with God and spending time with Him. Letting His plan for us (His process) take place inside of us. We need this so that we can grow:
- Grow our roots deeper and stronger, secured in our foundation and getting water directly and from deep within our relationship with God.
- Grow our leaves, branches and fruit so that we can give oxygen, food, shelter and healing to those around us.
Sometimes we look at others and then we look at ourselves and think that we have to measure ourselves against others based on our branches, leaves and fruit. We may feel like we are not making it, but that will again be living by sight. We should rejoice in the branches, leaves and fruits of others. What really matters is what is under the ground, the unseen – our roots. No one can see our roots – this is our relationship with God. What we can see (our branches, leaves and fruit) is directly dependant on what we cannot see (our roots). Go to your inner room and grow your roots, the rest will come in time. Like the Word says – first seek the Lords kingdom, and the rest will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
Trees were all made with the ability to photosynthesise and the capacity to take water from the ground, carbon dioxide from the air and soak up the light to give energy and direction. Similarly we were all made with the ability to ‘photosynthesise’. Trees need all of these things to bear fruit and to grow to its full potential. And so we need God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives every day to bear fruit and grow to our full potential. God will use our fruit, leaves and oxygen to direct people to Him!
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
Psalms 1:1-4 (NKJV)
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.”
After discussing this revelation about trees with friends at a cell group, the following came out of the discussion: in the first verse it shows regression – walks, stands, sits. This scripture is basically saying, do not stagnate and fill your head with worldly things – living by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Verse two refers to walking by faith – being busy with God, filling your mind with Him and having an intimate relationship with Him. (Click here to read a previous blog post on walk by faith and not by sight). Then in verse three we see that a person in a relationship with God will be like a tree rooted in the living waters of God.
Revelations 22:2 (NKJV)
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Our faith will grow stronger when we spend time with God and in His word to gain knowledge of His love for us, His plans for us and His faithfulness. Let’s be trees with deep root systems getting our living water directly from God! Let’s focus on Jesus to direct us in our lives and let the Holy Spirit live in us to make us sensitive for God’s voice! Let’s be the vessels that God needs in order to release oxygen, give food and shelter to others. Let’s be trees for GOD!
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