For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17 ESV).
What would happen if you ate all week long but never went to the bathroom? That’s one backed-up person! Yuck! In a weird kind of way, that’s what it’s like when we just keep growing in Christ without “bearing fruit.” In other words, God wants our faith to be demonstrated, shared, and displayed in our lives by works as referenced in James 2 and Ephesians 2. God wants us to have an impact on the world around us. In Get Rooted we call this “bearing fruit.” This should be the by-product and an overflow of our spiritual growth, not something we manufacture to impress others or to try to earn God’s love. We can’t earn God’s love or salvation. Again, “bearing fruit” is a natural by-product in every believer’s life, and we DON’T EARN anything by works. Our actions flow out of our love for God and people.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV).
If people ate your spiritual “fruit” today, what do you think it would taste like? Would it be good? Or would it be bad—with some anger, hate, jealousy, or pride? As Christians, we want to produce the type of fruit the Bible talks about in Galatians 5:22-23. These are the kinds of characteristics we should let the Holy Spirit develop in our lives. As we grow in the “Source,” these characteristics will carry over to our everyday lives. In Root 4 we want to look at ways these qualities are manifested outwardly from what is taking place inwardly. An apple tree produces apples, and the same is true with any other tree—they produce after their own kind. As Rooted believers, we should produce fruit that is Christ-like. Let’s talk about some practical ways we can “bear fruit” with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control for Jesus: serving, sharing, and giving.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit”
(Matthew 7:18 NLT).
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV).
As Christians, we are called to pattern our whole lives after Jesus, who came to serve. Here we have God himself—who rightfully could have requested and demanded that everyone else serve him—choosing to serve others.
What are your thoughts when you hear the phrase “serve other people”?
Take a moment and write them down.
Right before Jesus was betrayed by Judas and sentenced to die on a cross, he ate one last meal with his disciples and chose to wash his disciples’ feet. He did this as an illustration of his role in forgiving our sins, but he also did it to visually teach his disciples to serve other people. (You can find the account in John 13:1-17.)
Would you willingly wash someone’s feet?
Take a moment and write down your thoughts.
Modern-day picture: Imagine going over to someone’s house and asking that person if you could clean their toilet with your hands. In Jesus’ day, feet were so nasty because people wore sandals, streets weren’t paved, and homes didn’t have plumbing. Here we have Jesus showing us a model of ultimate service. That is convicting and can inspire us to increase our efforts as servants!
Jesus is not interested in titles; he is interested in servanthood. Jesus was the master of serving and consistently taught his disciples the importance of serving others.
“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41 ESV).
Jesus went the extra mile for us when he died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (look back at Root 1 for a refresher), and it is awesome to go the extra mile for him. It’s an honor to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving is an opportunity to honor God through our lives. It flows from our love for God, which we can share with others. Serving God is better than winning a Super Bowl or starring in a blockbuster movie or being crowned American Idol. It’s the best thing in the world to represent Jesus to a world that needs him.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ
(Colossians 3:23-24 ESV).
We are servants of Christ, and we are called to work for God and bear fruit for him. To bear fruit, we must be tapped into the true vine, which is Jesus!
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV).
Jesus calls us to lead lives of “servant leadership” where we seek to serve others. Serving others is a way to love others. The Bible teaches us that we should view others higher than ourselves. WOW, that’s a little different than what most TV programs tell people. We live in a world where most media promote self-indulgence. Jesus flips that completely. Here is
The Golden Rule verse (Matthew 7:12) and some steps to help you “bear fruit” and let your life shine in a way that honors God.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).
Honor your family by serving at home
God is pleased when we are nice, respectful, and kind to our family.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV).
Serve in your local church
TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. This acronym is powerful because it reminds us that serving people in the local church is a way of honoring and representing God. It’s not about us; it’s about God. Every Christian has been given skills, talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts that can be used to help other Christians grow and the local church get stronger. Pursue serving at your church out of your love for God! Connect with your pastor and ask how you can help, and make a commitment to serve at church at least once a month.
…in whose eyes a vile person is despised,but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change…(Psalm 15:4 ESV).
Serve your community
Look for ways to serve people at school, at the grocery store, at your job, and everywhere else you go. Get creative and pray that God shows you ways to honor him by serving people.
Here are some examples of how you can do this: Pick up trash in a parking lot, carry someone’s groceries to the car, cook a meal for a needy family, or sit by someone at lunch who’s sitting alone and then spend time talking and listening. God says that every servant who is faithful in small tasks will be rewarded with greater things. Be led by the Holy Spirit and this will be one of the coolest adventures on the planet: serving people!
What are some ways you can serve at home, in your church, at school, and in your community? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.
Next, let’s focus on sharing the story of how God is working in your life and how God wants a relationship with other people, too.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14 ESV).
We are God’s modern-day preachers. We have the opportunity to share our personal stories and God’s “big picture” story with others. Jesus not only “walked the walk,” but he also spoke words. We must follow this example to share the word with others.
Sharing your story
Some people use the word “testimony” to describe this kind of sharing. It’s basically an opportunity for you to tell other people what your life was like before you became a Christian, how and why you decided to follow Jesus, how your life has changed, and what God is doing in your life now. Even if you’ve been a Christian since a really young age, you still have a story to share.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Revelation 12:11 ESV).
This is a potent verse because it reminds us of the power of our testimony and Jesus’ sacrifice. You aren’t trying to beat down anyone with your story. But your testimony can have a spiritually powerful effect on others. God can use your story to draw people to him. The greatest component of your story is having authentic love for people and caring about their lives. Keep your testimony simple, and practice saying it in less than two minutes. This exercise will help you organize your testimony to share with people.
Fill in the following statements:
Before I became a Christian I…
I follow Jesus because…
Now that I’m a Christian, I…
Here are some common pitfalls people encounter when sharing their testimony, plus some encouraging points that can help.
|Fear—afraid of rejection||Jesus accepts us, and his approval is our aim above all.|
|Guilt—”I am not perfect”||We will never be perfect. If we waited until we were perfect, we would never tell anybody what God has done for us.|
|No immediate change or results in others||So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV).|
Quick tips on sharing your story
• Practice making it short and precise, but don’t turn it into a memorized speech• Work on loving people first and asking them about their lives• Talk about what you’re learning as a Christian• Invite people to church
Sharing God’s story
Imagine you just won a million dollars. Would you tell anybody? Would you be excited? Would that be good news? I can only imagine you would be super excited and couldn’t wait to tell somebody.
Who would be the first person you would tell this good news to?
Write down the name of that person and how you might share the news.
Do you realize that if you follow Jesus, you have much more than a million dollars—you have experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ? You’ve experienced the “gospel,” which means good news. Think of this as God’s story. We have good news, yet oftentimes we don’t share it. “News” should be shared and broadcast. We have the best news of all: Jesus died for our sins, and anyone who trusts in him will spend eternity in heaven!
Common excuses for not sharing God’s story:
FEAR: God didn’t give the spirit of fear; God gives the spirit of power (see 2 Timothy 1:7).INADEQUACY: Just like your story, it doesn’t matter—you talk about the one who is perfect, Jesus.UNINFORMED: All we have to do is tell the story of Jesus and trust God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16 ESV).
God’s story—the good news, the gospel of Jesus—is phenomenal. It is the power of God bringing salvation. That is super duper good news. We can be bold and unashamed to represent Christ to the world.
List some people that you know who need to hear God’s story:
The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is simple:
• Sin separates us from God. We are sinners in need of a savior. • God sent a Savior to pay the price for our sin, Jesus Christ.• Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead. He did this out of love. (Memorize John 3:16.)• Jesus will accept everyone who repents, asks for forgiveness, and follows him. He will forgive anyone who turns to him.• Because Jesus paid the price for us, now we can be tight with God.• Ask if they would like to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and follow Jesus.
Tips for sharing God’s story:
• Pray for people first• Be quick to listen to them and care for them• Be authentic with your love like Christ loves them• Ask questions• Build relationships with people by serving and spending time with them
Here are 20 questions to initiate spiritual truth in any conversation:
• Are you a Christian?• Do you have what you need spiritually for what you’re going through?• You seem like a really good person; where do you go to church?• What are your thoughts on the afterlife?• Is there such a thing as absolute truth?• Are you a spiritual person?• Do you believe in the supernatural?• Why do you think evil exists in the world?• What makes a moral person?• Do you believe in angels?• Have you ever experienced a miracle?• Do you believe in a higher power?• Do you believe you have a destiny?• Who do you think Jesus is?• Are you afraid of death?• How do you think the world will end?• If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?• Do you believe social justice is possible?• Have you ever read the Bible?• What does real love look like?
• What happens if they don’t choose to follow Jesus?
It’s not our job to make people become Christians. That is up to God. It’s our job to plant the seed, allow someone else to water it, and let God make it grow. Keep praying to God for the people who hear your story and God’s story.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV).
Finally, let’s focus on giving—the tithe, offerings, and ultimately sacrificial giving. People think money makes the world go ’round, but it doesn’t. God makes the world go ’round. However, money is a key part of our society and is a tool for accomplishing the things that we do. God isn’t really interested in how much money you make; God is interested in what you do with the money you make. God owns it all and glorifying him through our money is biblical.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs
(1 Timothy 6:10 ESV, emphasis added).
The wrong attitude toward money can be a ROOT for all kinds of evil. That’s scary and gets my attention. Let’s get something straight: Money is not bad in and of itself. Money is simply a resource that we can use to glorify God. The Bible says the problem is when we love money.
Giving is a part of being a rooted Christian. Giving can have an impact across the world. I get excited just writing this. Why? Because once we understand that money is a resource God allows us to have, it changes our whole view on what we do with it. God can begin to challenge our priorities. God is pleased when we exhibit faith in him and when we worship him, and one way to worship God is with our money.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money”
(Matthew 6:24 ESV).
Making someone your “Lord” means to put that person in first place over everything. As Christians, when we follow Jesus, we are making Jesus the Lord of our lives, so he is worthy to be Lord over our money as well. God wants our whole heart, and money can be a huge distraction. God knows that. The Bible talks about money often so we can get the right understanding of what it is and how it can be used.
“…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21 ESV).
Giving is a blessing, and God wants us to be cheerful givers. We are not forced to give; God leaves it up to us. The blessing is that we have the opportunity to give. Think of how much God has given for us. Jesus gave his life.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV).
We can be happy about giving when we understand that it is all God’s anyway. It is amazing when we realize how giving can impact the world. Giving and meeting people’s needs can open the door to share our story and God’s story with them. Let’s be missional as Rooted believers in Christ.
Here are a couple of ways God wants us to give:
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10 ESV).
The tithe is 10 percent of all that we earn; the Bible teaches us to return it to the storehouse, the local church. The tithe belongs to God, who entrusts us with the remaining 90 percent. God is looking for our obedience as stewards of money—we are entrusted with it and we keep watch over it.
“I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:11 ESV).
This is giving above and beyond our tithe. This can be to the local church or a ministry that is sharing God’s good news with people. God blesses our offerings and pours out favor on our lives. We shouldn’t just look at giving as a percentage; we should look at giving as an act done sacrificially out of love. Jesus gave sacrificially because of love for the Father. Let’s take note and follow the same pattern. We find our lives when we lose our lives (Matthew 16:25).
Our money can help
• Pay the bills at church for people to grow in Jesus and pay the pastors’ salaries• Feed the hungry in our communities and around the world• Give clothes to the homeless• Provide water to people who have no clean drinking water• Buy cars for missionaries and buy Bibles for people to learn about God• Build churches where there are none• Buy Bibles• Spread the gospel
• What are some ways you could generate money to give to God?
Take a moment and write down your ideas.
Here are some ways people have earned money to give to God:
• Organize a fundraiser (food, charity sporting event, car wash, etc.)• Start an online business• Work a second job• Develop and live on a budget• Shovel snow or mow lawns• Ask neighbors if they have any house projects they need help with• Go to local businesses and ask for ways to earn money for missions• Giving can reach people all around the globe.
We don’t have to give; we get to give. People get so focused on a percentage when giving. You are not forced to give. Giving is driven by looking at Christ for hope. He gave his life sacrificially; wouldn’t it make sense we do the same out of love filled with thankfulness? Jesus seemed backward to most cultures today, and his followers were the same. Look at how Jesus’ followers lived in the book of Acts. They gave and shared all of their possessions to the glory of God. God isn’t looking for works; he is looking for faithful obedience fueled by love from his children. Giving can be an awesome opportunity in response to growing deeply in Christ.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV).
This verse in Philippians is super powerful and challenging. How should we act when we think of others better than ourselves? Does that mean we should invest over half our time, resources, love, service, and money in others? Ponder on your answers as food for thought. This is profound when you think about being used by God, and this passage affects the way we approach “bearing fruit.” Keeping this attitude of thinking about others better than yourselves is a pattern we see in Scripture.
Jesus led the way living out this truth as he laid down his life for others. What an awesome display for us to model our lives after. (This doesn’t mean you have to go die for someone today—you get the point.) This Root allows us to be mission minded as Rooted believers. Jesus was on a mission from the Father, and Jesus has commissioned us to “bear fruit” as well. We serve an AWESOME GOD!
The fruit of the Holy Spirit referenced in Galatians 5 carries over into “bearing fruit” in our lives. We are all called to “bear fruit,” and some practical ways we can do this are by serving, sharing, and giving. It can be as simple as doing homework, taking out trash, and showing up on time for an appointment. It is important we grow spiritually, but we also must understand we represent Jesus everywhere we go, in everything we do, and with everything we say. “Bearing fruit” allows others to see Jesus in our lives. “Bearing fruit” is a by-product of our relationship with God and doesn’t get us into heaven or earn us anything. “Bearing Fruit” comes from our trust in the Lord. It is used to bring glory to God, to the one who deserves all glory anyway. God wants us to serve, share, and give.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV, emphasis added).
• We can honor God on earth by “bearing fruit”• Jesus was the ultimate servant• We can “bear fruit” by serving, sharing, and giving• We can serve God at home, in church, and anywhere else• God wants me to share our testimonies (the story of what he did for us) and the gospel (God’s story)• God wants to be the Lord of our money• We have an impact on the world by giving• We should look to others higher than ourselves• “Bearing fruit” is a by-product of my love for Christ• “Bearing fruit” does not get me into heaven; Jesus alone does
• Help your parents and family with a task without being asked.
• Ask your pastor and/or youth pastor where you can serve, and make a commitment
• Share your story with a few people this week, and then share God’s story. Write your testimony of how God has changed your life, and post it on the social network website of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace).
• Write down the names of people who aren’t yet Christians, and pray for them.
• Complete Root 4 online and get your free download. Click here for Root 4 Quiz.
• If you choose to be a giver, give in the church offering. Remember all Jesus gave for us. Think of things that you can do to make money to give!
• Buy a stranger a meal or a gift card.
• Write someone a letter or e-mail telling them you love them and share your story or God’s story.
• Write down questions you have about church and bring them up to your Get Rooted group leader next week.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
God, help me to be a master-level servant, give me the boldness to share with people, and show me ways I can give more to fund your work on earth. I thank you for growing me; you are awesome! Amen.