Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:16)
This simple statement was probably common agricultural wisdom used to teach the basic principles of gardening. Paul uses this wisdom to reveal the wisdom of God in drawing many pagan people into the faith. In the first statement, “If the first fruits are holy, so is the whole batch,” Paul is referring to the Gentiles, who were coming to Christ and learning the ways of holiness. They were the “first fruits” of many others to follow. To those who were complaining that the Gentiles did not observe all of the Jewish customs, Paul points to the fruit of their lives, that they were becoming holy people, so it was obvious that God was at work. An application for us is to realize that when a way is successful in producing what God desires, God may bless and widen that way for greater fruitfulness.
In the statement, “if the root is holy, so are the branches,” Paul infers that the Gentiles are being grafted into the household of God, which is the root, so they have become partakers of the holiness of God. This wisdom can help us in our pursuit of holiness. When the root of a thing is evil, it can only produce evil. Our enemy will oftentimes sugarcoat his work with fluffy verbiage that appears noble and admirable, but his true motives are hidden. If we dig back to the root of a thing, we can often find the truth. When we begin asking questions like, “Whose idea was this?” or “What is the ultimate goal here?” we will often be surprised at the answer. Due diligence requires that we do some digging to find the roots of a thing before we decide what we should do. In contrast, when the root of a thing is good, the result will always be good.
Paul is quoting common agricultural wisdom to gain access to the greater wisdom of God. All wisdom has its roots in God, who is wise above all and ready to bestow wisdom to anyone who asks for it. In the course of your life, you will face many difficult decisions. The choices you make will have a profound impact both on your life and the lives of the people you love. Wisdom is a gift that brings clarity and will enable you to move forward with confidence.
Lord God, thank you for the wisdom you give to everyone who turns to you. Your wisdom brings light and understanding. Give me wisdom so that I might see the circumstances of my life from your perspective and make choices that bring blessing and honor to you.