To Eat from the Tree of Life 3

I’ve recently gained a greater appreciation for reading the books of the Bible in context – understanding what the author of each book intended to convey with their intricately crafted literary works and not simply grabbing phrases and fitting them into the preformed (and bad) theologies with which I approach them.

It all began when I listened to a great series on the tree of life, bringing a much-needed, more profound and fresh perspective on a topic I’ve written about before (praise God!). I share a few notes below🙂

The tree of life symbolises the picture of the ideal – being in a state of relational proximity with God in which you’re transformed through God’s life inside of you. It represents a gift that God wants to give humanity, a life that is beyond the original life that God breathed into humans. The first human, by nature, is susceptible to death. Nevertheless, continued eating from the tree could renew life and prevent death.

The tree of knowing good and bad symbolises a test – will I approach opportunities with my knowledge of good and bad (blind to my screwed-up motives and limited understanding beneath it) of which the fruit is pleasing to the eye and looks good to eat (especially if the situation/test is intense), or will I refuse to live by it and instead approach them with God’s wisdom? It encapsulates the fundamental human condition described by the bible so well!

Our daily challenge is to walk past the tree of knowing good and bad and eat from the tree of life.

Practically, first and foremost, wisdom and life are about listening to God’s voice. Tightly intertwined in the relational aspect (through the Holy Spirit) is to be transformed by His written word (the proven canon of scripture by the early church). We make this second connection through the images of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly in Proverbs that can be connected to the tree of life and the tree of knowing good and bad.

A fresh perspective on the Lord’s Prayer:

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended or wronged us].

And lead us not into temptation [but rescue us from evil].’ ”

Luke 11:2-4 AMP

The two trees give me insight into how we should do things – here is the what (our targets):

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31 ESV

Ultimately, I’ve found a renewed joy in my broadened understanding of eating from the tree of life:

  • The relational aspect – requires caution as one can easily eat from the tree of good and bad in it (the perception of His words/promptings can be tainted by the clutter in one’s soul and one’s limited wisdom), and
  • The wisdom aspect – not only maturing in godly character and condition of one’s heart but also growing in His wisdom, which requires laying down one’s limited knowledge of good and bad in life’s various opportunities and when approaching the scriptures.

What Should We Do?

Do you know who God created you to be, and what you should do with your life?

I believe it’s crucially important to know. So that you can enter a place of rest, have clarity, confidence and the God-given strength to persevere. Having God’s vision of and for you helps you to align with it and enter that place of rest in which you don’t over (or under) extend yourself.

But where do you start?


The Broad Foundation (Old Testament Law)

In the old testament, God told Joshua to diligently obey the entire law and meditate on it day and night so that he may be prosperous:

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:7-9 NIV

The Refined Foundation (New Testament Law)

Jesus changed the landscape of obeying laws completely, and it turns out all the Mosaic laws are contained in two “simple” ones that make His heart and intention behind them clearer:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31 NIV

One of the dangers is that we only focus on fulfilling laws and forget all about God and our relationship with Him (Jesus gives a stern rebuke for such people in Matthew 23).

Fortunately, God does have a great understanding of our position, and to us who believe, He has given the Holy Spirit to guide and help us so that we don’t just end up tirelessly and heartlessly following a set of rules, rituals, laws and expectations (this article explores the topic of being free from the law in great detail), but rather navigate the freedom and forgiveness we have in Jesus (and enter A Growing Rest):

But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:15‭-‬22 NKJV

How to Approach this Adventure

It’s important that we give ourselves cheerfully when striving to obey His commandments (we can always start with baby steps):

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

While keeping in mind that we need His discernment to know when to challenge ourselves in what our hearts are willing to give, because our sinful nature (our flesh) will likely want to choose the path of least resistance and comfort:

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:16-18 NIV

Let God Lead the Way

To me, the ideal way is that everything we do, and getting a picture of who we are, flows from our love relationship with God (seeking His face, enjoying His presence, hearing his voice, following His promptings – some more thoughts on this in one of my previous posts – To Eat from the Tree of Life 2).

I can leave you at this point and encourage you to get to it, but I will shed some light on some of the specific, practical things we can be called to do.

First, find comfort in that you are intimately known and knit together by God:

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalms 139:13-14

Humbly Serve in the Body of Christ

Paul tells us that we are each called to humbly serve in the Body of Christ in various ways (I wouldn’t limit myself to one, permanent box – we are indeed pieces of clay):

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:3-8

Make Disciples of All Nations

You don’t have to “go” very far to make disciples (although I’m not saying you shouldn’t). I strongly believe this can happen wherever you go each day.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Discover Your Identity and Traits

In my experience, God has revealed some of my true character traits in broad strokes, and others in finer, specific ones. Some of these traits blend in with my talents (natural, and developed), and are things that I can joyfully carry the load of each day. He has also shone a light on some good qualities, and some “dangerous” qualities that I need to stay mindful of. Related: Wie is Jy.

How? Out of the blue, and while reading certain scriptures, I have felt Him drop insights of who I truly am and what I’m called to do. Other Christians have also prophesied over me, confirming things and establishing new ones. Throughout this process of self-discovery in Christ, we have to trust and pray for discernment, because our hearts can be deceiving.

Grab it by Faith and Judge the Fruit

Ultimately, we need to grab our identity and responsibilities by faith (believe it to be true even though we can’t yet see it), and be mindful of the fruit that flows out of us;

17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:17-20 NIV

so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God

Colossians 1:10

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25