“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, do not vaunt yourselves over the branches. If you do vaunt yourselves, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.” Romans 11:17-18
One of the (not so) secret pleasures that is enjoyed in this world is the pleasure we get when we overtake another in rank, position or authority. Sometimes this plays out as a private pleasure; a sense of pride in our hearts at our accomplishment. On other occasions it takes place much more publicly; gloating and rubbing it in. But what we see here in Romans offers a third option.
Paul spoke and ministered to the Gentiles, those who were not Jewish, those who were previously viewed as “outside” the family of God. A large part of Paul’s ministry was devoted to showing a new understanding of who as “in” or “out” when it came to this new family in the Kingdom of God. In these verses he uses the imagery of a branch being grafted into an existing tree – the wild branch (Gentiles) being grafted into a cultivated tree (the family of God). Ultimately, both the grafted branches, and the natural branches are fully a part of the same tree – perhaps even some of the natural branches were lost in the process.
In this he gives a warning. Do not take pride in this “accomplishment” as if you’ve achieved anything at all. You do not support the tree, the tree supports you – for that you should give thanks, not take selfish pride.
This is good advice no matter the situation. We would do well to remember that in all that we accomplish we have been gifted by our Heavenly Father; it is not our own strength that supports us, but the strength that we have been grafted into.
So take a moment to review where you are and what you’ve accomplished. What role has God played in these achievements? Thank God today for the support and strength that comes only from him.