ONE OF MY FAVORITE TEXTS in Paul’s letters is in 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.”

Paul uses two metaphors to describe the process of sanctification. The first is “walking in him,” but the second, “rooted in him,” is the one I want to focus on. Paul uses this “rooting” metaphor only one other time, in Ephesians 3:17-18. That “you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend…the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” 

It is obvious from this language that Christ is the soil. He and his love are the nutrients that sustain and power spiritual fruit, and spiritual fruit is the objective. But what is the root that draws spiritual life from Christ?  The root is essential. Without there is no agrarian life. The root burrows deep into the matrix of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Without a root we cannot be “rooted” in Christ. 


God used a Christian friend with a wine hobby to help me understand Paul’s root analogy. He grows his own grapes. Then he painstakingly and carefully ferments and ages excellent wine for himself and his friends. 

The best wines, he told me, grow on carefully selected rootstalk. Interestingly, the rootstalk might be a completely different variety of grape than the wine itself. The root stalk is carefully chosen for its special qualities. Maybe it thrives on low moisture or is good at resisting disease? Once the root stalk is established the vineyard owner grafts a varietal vine onto the root. It might be Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, or Merlot. But the root stalk and the vine are often completely different varieties. The grape vine derives its life, vitality, and durability from the root stalk. 

Here is the punchline. The quality and quantity of fruit will always be a function of the nature of our rootstalk and how deeply it sinks itself into Christ. 


But, what is the nature of the rootstalk? Only one rootstalk will effectively draw Christ’s life into the vine. We can only graft the fruits of  the “love, joy, peace, patience, etc.,” mentioned in Galatians five, onto one rootstalk—HUMILITY! 

Why? Because humility precedes spiritual fruit. Consider the first three spiritual fruits in Galatians five —love, joy, and peace. Love requires humility. You can only love others to the degree that you consider them more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3-11). 

Joy is a function of humility. “Joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) belongs to the humble willing to confess their massive need. Jesus took the judgment I deserve so that I can enjoy the reward that he deserves. These Believers “overflow with thanksgiving” as Paul commands in Colossians 2:7. 

“Peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) is the daily inheritance of those who admit that they are not in control, that they are weak and small, but daily confess that “For those who love God all things works together for good” (Romans 8:28). 

Is this really true? To some identifying the rootstalk as humility may seem like either an exaggeration or an oversimplification. But North America’s greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards, went even further. He suggested that everything God does in our life is to expand and nourish the rootstalk of humility. It is the one essential virtue upon which the others depend.  

It [humility] is a great and most essential thing in true religion. The whole frame of the gospel, and everything appertaining to the new covenant, and all God’s dispensations towards fallen man, are calculated to bring to pass this effect in the hearts of men. They that are destitute of this, have no true religion, whatever profession they may make, and how high soever their religious affections may be.[1]

Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, “Religous Affections,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth)


How do we build up this rootstalk?

First, confess pride, especially if you don’t see it. Why? Because pride is the heart and soul of Original Sin. We enter this world saturated in pride. It is natural. We all have an abundant supply. Humility is unnatural. Growing humility takes great effort. That is because pride blinds us to its own existence. That is why C. S. Lewis speculated that the more humble you feel, the more proud you most likely are. It is also true that the more proud you feel the more humble you surely are. Blindness to pride is the prima facie sign of its presence.  

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty of themselves. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more [pride] we have ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.[2]

C. S. Lewis, Mere Chrisitianity

By contrast, humility opens our eyes to the reality of our indwelling pride. Humble people see their proud arrogance and hate it. Therefore, the prouder you feel the stronger, deeper, and healthier your rootstalk of humility probably is. 

Second, ask God to humble you. Those interested in their own happiness do this. Humble people are happy people. Love, Joy, and peace flourish on this rootstalk, and who doesn’t want more love, joy, and peace? Thousands would give all their assets to live in the experience of these. 

So, if you don’t feel proud, confess your blindness. Then reinforce the rootstalk of humility, sink it deep into Christ, and from it the fruits of love, joy, and peace will thrive. God will get the glory, and you will get the joy. For more on this subject get a copy of my book, Gospel Powered Humility.

[1] The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vo. 1, “Religious Affections,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth), 

[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity,