Our association with others can either lift us up or pull us down. Let us learn a lesson from the trees. The world’s largest tree (and one of the world’s oldest) is the Coast Redwood (of California). It grows from a seed that is no larger than the one from a tomato. It rises like a skyscraper (tall, towering building) to 367 feet (122 m). These trees can live for more than two thousand years.
These natural giants have an attention-grabbing root system. (Trees are held in place by anchoring organs called “roots.” Roots grow constantly. We are to be rooted in the Word of God.)
The roots of the redwood only go down 10-13 feet deep (3-4 m) before they spread 60-80 feet (20-27 m). How can such a tall tree with such a shallow root system withstand the wind? The roots often entangle with neighboring trees. This provides for greater stability. The trees grow close together and gain strength from being a forest. Through growing together and networking with other members of the body, we have the strength of the combined body. We become stronger through our association with each other. We also become grounded and settled in God’s Word.
“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Don’t let anyone lead you stray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking…” (Colossians 2:7-8, NLT).
You now have a hint of the down side to these close relationships. Because the roots are entangled or fused together, it is conceivable that when disease strikes, it can spread throughout the common root system, as is common with the oak tree. The root systems of oak trees within fifty feet of each other can become grafted together. If one tree becomes infected, the disease can easily move from tree to tree.
“It takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been troubling and confusing you” (Galatians 5:9-10, NLT).
Our association with others can build us up, or pull us down. It has often been said that if you show me your associates, I can tell you a lot about your personal character. We are like those we hang around.