If you have ever repotted a plant, sometimes you will find that when you pull it from the pot, the entire plant will slip out easily. The roots may be tangled and matted together into a dense, tightly-woven mass. In many cases, the plant will be rootbound. How can you tell if a plant is suffering from this condition? One indication is stunted growth. A secondary indication is if the plant’s container will not give when pressed because the roots have filled up the container completely. A rootbound plant has roots that do not spread out for nutrients but circle the interior of the container until they conform to the shape of the pot.
At times, and about certain things, we can become rootbound. We grow only as much as the pot we are in allows, but we don’t want another pot because we like the present one. If someone were to check our rootbound areas, they would find that we don’t give easily when pressed; we’re rigid, hard, and unyielding. We don’t want to change our way of doing things. Our roots circle, never spreading out, becoming more and more tightly constrained until we use up all the moisture and nutrients in our already-too-small pot. It’s a comfortable pot, yet we do not grow. We match our surroundings, circling the inside of our hearts, never reaching out beyond what we perceive as the limit.
When you repot a rootbound plant, the recommendation is to slash the root ball repeatedly with a knife. You don’t cut the major roots but break up the network of secondary ones to encourage them to branch out.
That’s what God does. He uses situations and circumstances to slash through those things that hinder us from branching. He doesn’t put us in a larger pot without some major adjustments to our root system. Paul prays that the Ephesians would be “rooted and grounded in love” and that they “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (3:17b-19a). Perhaps our love at times, both for God and for others, becomes rootbound. God may choose to slash open the repetitive cycle so we can branch out from the tiny pot in which we have placed ourselves into the infinite soil of Christ’s love.
Our lives would give clear evidence of remaining firmly rooted in Christ. – Colossians 2:6-7 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
We would remember the source of our power and ability to bear spiritual fruit comes from Jesus alone. – John 15:5 “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.”
Our love to those around us would be a direct reflection of Christ’s love for us. – John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”