Branches & Roots

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While working on President Hinckley’s August 2005 challenge to read the Book of Mormon, I came across a verse in Jacob 5 that cause me to ponder. In verse 47, the master of the vineyard is pining over the fact that his good olive tree has become overrun with wild fruit despite all his effort to encourage the growth of good fruit through pruning, fertilising, and aerating. His servant’s response is in verse 48:

“And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùhave not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?”

It seems the grafted-in wild branches spread out to bear fruit more quickly than the roots could handle.

As I was pondering this, I wondered if perhaps some new members are similar to this tree. Not in the idea that they are bearing wild fruit or that their efforts are corrupted, but in the idea that perhaps they are spreading out quickly in an effort to produce a lot of fruit. Too quickly for their root system.

Do we expect too much of our new converts? Do they expect too much of themselves?

12 thoughts on “Branches & Roots

  1. Do we expect too much of our new converts? Do they expect too much of themselves?

    Another interesting question is ‘Do they expect to much of members?’

    Specifically in areas where the baptism rates are high (read Mexico, South America, etc.), the membership has problems facing all the needs of the new converts. Sometimes things as simple as a clean shirt on Sunday are taxing on the membership.

  2. Great Post!

    I always use this scripture to represent the spreading of the gospel to the gentiles after Christ’s resurrection. Due to persecutions and murders the roots(apostles and prophets) were not strong enough to endure the wild fruit(gentile converts), who took root unto themselves (changed the doctrine to allow for their previously held undertstandings). Thus making this fruit corrupt.

    I appreciate your insight Kim, as I have never thought of myself, or other modern converts in this scripture. It seems President Hinckley’s counsel that every convert needs a friend, an opportunity to serve and nurturing through the word of god is indeed inspired. From what I’ve seen it’s the only root system that we can have which will allow us to produce good fruit.

  3. Elder Russell M. Nelson had a similar context when he used this verse in the leadership session of the 1985/04 General Conference, which mainly was about reactivation. He said,

    “Brethren, activity in the Church brings great blessings to the lives of all who participate. With conviction we sing, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll say what you want me to say. I’ll be what you want me to be.” (Hymns #75) This commitment grows from four roots of faith that securely sustain members in the Church. An important scriptural thought pertains to vines that were inactive, failing to produce fruit as they should, ‘The branches had overcome the roots, they grew faster than the strength of the roots.’ (Jacob 5:48) In our approach to activation, we too would do well to concentrate on the roots, rather than continually pruning the branches of programs and procedures or responding to other outward evidences of faith.

    “Some of us are like a great banyan tree: large and broad around the middle, a little gnarly, not particularly beautiful. But we have a strong root system that anchors us firmly, even ‘midst storms of adversity. But some are like a palm tree with slim, graceful lines, a narrow waist, even fully-bedecked on the top. Only one problem: shallow roots, leaving it unstable when heavy winds blow. As we apply this analogy, we recognize there is a natural difference in these trees. They come from different families and serve particular purposes.”

    He then discussed in detail those four roots of faith:
    1. Root of Believing Blood
    2. Root of Truth
    3. Root of Personal Experience
    4. Root of Friendship
    and then continued, “we may find comfort in the scripture from the Book of Job, ‘For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground: yet through the scent of water […] it will bring forth boughs like a plant.’ (Job 14-79).

    “ Wise leaders know how to water the roots of those they nurture:
    · If the root of friendship is frail, it’s treated with love,
    · If the root of experience is weak, effort is directed toward providing personal religious experience,
    · If the root of believing blood is thin, we help by building deserved feelings of self-worth,
    · If the root of truth is wavering, it’s nurtured by prayerful study”

    (BTW, that whole session is worth reviewing. It was included in the cassette tapes of that Conference, but not in the Ensign.)

  4. No kidding? Kim has taken a stand AGAINST reading from the Book of Mormon by the end of the year? I’ll wait to hear it from him, along with an explanation, before I ask why.

  5. No, he just isn’t doing the challenge, because of how he studies. He is reading the book of Mormon.

    I am doing the challenge however. Just about done!

  6. oops, i am wrong. he IS doing the challenge, just not the way the average membership thinks the challenge should be done (which is to finish the Book of Mormon by the 31st). He is reading and studying the Book of Mormon (as he always does) but isn’t trying to finish it, by the end of the week.

  7. “Off topic slightly, but don’t grapes grow in vineyards and olives in orchards? What’s with that?”

    If you read the text, there is nothing that notes that they were not in a vineyard that happend to have a favored and majestic olive tree. Later in the chapeter, good branches are taken to various places in the vineyard to try and get new growth, but that, again, does not mean that they are in an olive orchard. They could be in a grape vineyard with multiple olive trees.

    How’s that for literalism!!

  8. I believe you have missed the point. It is the loftiness of the vineyard. The Lord has chosen the house of Israel to be the trees. He has chosen Israel to serve, to bring forth good fruit. But Israel keeps thinking that it is chosen to rule (which lofty thinking tends to corrupt) ” ..taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupt?” There’s competition going on, right now, today, between the Jews, Arabs, and Christians (the Christians being adopted into the house of Israel and therefore siding with the Jews) to be children of Abraham, God’s People, special, above all the other Families of the World and therefore priviledged, lofty, and corrupting. If they would only serve each other by building schools, hospitals, and homes, instead of fighting to dominate, control, and rule. Then, I think, will the world be more peaceful! Then, will the branches not overtake the roots, which are good.

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