Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lessons from Jeremiah’s Tree of Life

“I the LORD test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.” ~Jeremiah 17:10 (NRSV).

There are many biblical concepts wrapped up in this sub-section of Jeremiah concluding at verse 10. This Word of the Lord is a wisdom oracle consistent to the genre of the biblical Prophets; polarising faithful living with unfaithful. Indeed, Jeremiah 17:5-10 is also reminiscent of Psalm 1, just reversed.

Overall, by the vitality of their “fruit” is how the faithful shall be known.

Seekers and Finders of Our Own Destiny

We sow more intrinsically than we realise. Whilst God searches our hearts and tests our minds, we’re of full volition when the conscience is the vehicle to it. The Lord need not find a more capable ally than we find in ourselves.

This is the Christian person: one who has enabled God to steer their lives.

Certain others won’t be tested or searched; they’ll not have a bar of it. They refuse entry of the Sovereign God into the vestibules of godly dominion: their minds and hearts.

Still, that’s not a chosen destiny for us; we have a better angle on life because by our deeds we wish to be known. Fruitfulness is the disc of our spiritual hard-drive and, solemn to scrutiny, it’s not fragmented.

Watching the Heart

Proverbs most virulently proposes the heart as both the wellspring of life (4:23) and the deviser of scheming (6:18; 15:11). This wisdom book makes a purposeful study of the concept of the heart being the seat of both our emotions and intentions.

It is obvious that this is what Jeremiah has in mind as he transcribes God’s Word. No one can understand the motioning and concluding devices of the heart; least of all, at times, its possessor—us. If we’ll not watch our hearts, God will; the judgment of the Lord we’ll reap upon ourselves in any such event—good or evil.

It pays us to watch our hearts.

A Tree Planted by Water

Jeremiah offers Psalm 1 imagery. We imagine a sole tree in a desert, but one fed by an abundant nearby stream. Both tree and stream appear out of place in the landscape of the desert, but they cast forth an important metaphor to remember.

Sinfulness abounds in this life. That sin is desert-like; it’s caused any life around it to be swallowed up and the only things known to the desert are the hot and chilly winds that howl by day and night. It is a most inhospitable place.

On the other hand, the tree survives marvellously in this environment because it has its water-source nearby to constantly refresh and feed it.

We are the tree and God’s Spirit and Word is the stream. It nourishes us in this desert-life where the winds of sin howl, consuming all in their path, including the deceiving of our hearts toward treachery if we’re not connected vitally to the “stream” of God.

The tree planted by the water has evergreen roots connecting ever-better to the stream; it is well prepared for the coming heat and strangling drought. It continues bearing fruit through all seasons. So shall we.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah/Lamentations (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), pp. 175-76.

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