Metaphors for Growth

A couple of years ago, my husband Billy was loading up the back of his SUV with baseball equipment. It was a windy day here in Arizona…what we call monsoon season. (FYI…for my non-Arizonians…Arizona monsoons range from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms characterized by heavy winds and accompanied by thunder and lightning often leading to heavy downpours.)

All of sudden, I heard Billy yelling for me. I ran outside and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Our next door neighbor’s tree had fallen on top of the SUV! With Billy inside of it! No joke! Thankfully, no one was hurt and there was very minimal damage to the truck considering the size of this tree and its long branches!

I remember this tree in our neighbor’s yard because it always looked very interesting….as it grew up vertically it also grew out horizontally. I was so shocked and amazed that a tree of this size had actually uprooted from the ground and had fallen over. I would have bet any day that its roots dug down deep into the ground! I was apparently wrong.

What a great metaphor for our own lives as we grow in our relationship with Jesus! The importance of being rooted deeply in Christ so that when the wind blows and the storms of life come we will be able to withstand them and not fall over.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Colossians 2:7 is a great biblical scripture that I find so fascinating because it is full of metaphors. And if we dig deeper into this scripture, we can not only gain a greater understanding of these metaphors for growth but also see how to apply them to our lives!

Grow Downward

Let your roots grow down into him… 

Paul…the writer of Colossians…uses an agricultural image here…Unlike the tree that fell on my husband’s SUV, a tree must put down deep roots in order to find nutrition and to provide stability.

Just as a tree is “rooted,” we are to be grounded in the soil of God’s word. We must go deep with Christ in order to find the fuel we need to flourish and for stability to withstand the storms of life.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:8 NLT

One commentary states…Believers are sometimes compared to trees, and are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; and their root is Christ, from whence as such they spring, and by whom they are filled with the fruits of righteousness; in him they are to abide, keep close unto him, and walk in him; deriving all their life, nourishment, fruitfulness, grace, and perseverance in it, from him as their root. Gill’s Exposition

Grow Upward

…and let your lives be built on him.

Paul moves to a construction image here to show that as our foundation is built on Christ, we must continue to add on so that we are “being built up in him.”

…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 NIV

So what exactly does it mean that Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone?

In biblical times, buildings were often made of cut rock. A cornerstone was a big stone placed at the intersecting angle, where two walls of the building came together. By uniting these 2 walls, a cornerstone helped align the whole structure and tie it together tightly.

And so similarly, Jesus… the chief cornerstone…holds everything together and provides alignment and stability to our lives!

They [believers] are also sometimes compared to a building, to a house, a temple, an habitation for God; and Christ is the sure and only foundation on which they are laid, and where they are safe and secure; and, being fitly joined together, grow up as an holy temple to the Lord; and this being their case, they are to go on laying the whole stress of their salvation on him, building their faith and hope of eternal glory entirely upon him; Gill’s Exposition

Building our foundation on the chief cornerstone…the solid rock of Jesus Christ… is so important for our spiritual growth. As Christians, we are in no way exempt from crises or storms coming our way and so by putting God’s word into practice, we can stand firm when our foundation is tested!

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Matthew 6:47-48 NIV

Grow Inward

Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught.

We must be taught the word of God in order to grow in our faith.

It is so important that we are not just attending church on Sundays but also participating in weekly bible studies, small groups and studying God’s word daily on our own.. We are to be students of the Word and as a disciple…always learning.

It is important that we are putting ourselves in an environment where we can study God’s Word and be strengthened on a regular basis.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJB

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 KJB

Grow Outward

you will overflow with thankfulness.

The more we study God’s Word, the more we understand God’s grace. The more we understand God’s grace, the more we will overflow with thankfulness.

A thankless person betrays a life which is no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ. Author and Pastor Kent Hughes

A heart that overflows with thankfulness stays focused on God…not on ourselves or our circumstances. It is only by grace and the appreciation of what we have received though Christ’s death on the cross that we will overflow with thankfulness in all circumstances.

Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

So are you growing downward…growing upward…growing inward…growing outward in your relationship with Christ?

Colossian 2:7 provides great metaphors for growth in our lives as Christians…

Grow downward…by being “rooted”

Grow upward…by being “built up”

Grow inward…so we can be “strengthened in the faith”

Grow outward…as we “overflow with thankfulness”

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you Growing Downward? Are you “rooted” in Christ? Are you letting “your roots grow down” in Christ for nourishment and stability in your life?

2)      How do you respond when crisis or the storms of life come your way?

3)      Are you Growing Upward? Is your foundation built upon the chief cornerstone…the solid rock of Jesus Christ?

4)      Are you Growing Inward? What are you doing to grow and be strengthened in your faith?

5)      Are you Growing Outward? Are you overflowing in thankfulness? Or has your focus turned from God to your circumstances?

Action Points:

Review the paragraphs above to understand the metaphors for growth depicted in Colossians 2:7 and apply them to your life.

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