Study to Be Fruitful
IT IS easy for us to drink water, because it runs down. It is hard for a tree to drink water, because it runs uphill. The hill is steep, straight up, sometimes more than four hundred feet in the air. The water must travel fast, sometimes as much as one hundred and fifty feet an hour. It must go up in large volumes, some thirsty trees using one hundred gallons a day. How can they drink it up, and so much, and so fast?
Science is not sure, but evidence points to two forces. One is root pressure. The root system fingers out through the ground, absorbs moisture from the soil and when saturated it exerts some pressure to start the water upward. However, this root pressure alone is not sufficient, and science assigns the main role to what it calls shoot tension, which is an upward pull exerted upon the columns of water in the tree trunk, which pull comes from high up in the tree itself. In the leaf water is lost through perspiration and used in making food and producing fruit. As water is used in the upper regions of the tree and more is needed a drawing force lifts the water columns. So while the roots supply some push, it is primarily the urgent need for water in the treetop that pulls it up from the roots, draws it uphill, fast, and in quantity. And all this just to be fruitful.
Christians must be fruitful also. Just as the root must penetrate through the moist soil to pick up water, so the mind of the Christian must penetrate through the hundreds of pages of the Bible, which is the great reservoir of the waters of truth. The mind must by careful study reach into every book, every chapter, every verse, to draw out the truth waters, to fill both mind and heart with them, until such waters within the Christian become as a deep well for others to draw from. Some food faddists say, You are what you eat. But the Bible says, You are what you think. Proverbs 23:7 states: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Eventually the true heart condition manifests itself by both word and deed. (Matt. 12:34; 15:19) Hence the necessity of filling the heart with Bible truth, like a deep well full of pure water.
This very fullness of mind and heart with truth that comes by study of God’s Word builds up a pressure within us that tends to make us speak up, just as saturated roots develop some pressure to start water upward. Yet just as root pressure alone is not sufficient to push the water into the treetops to there produce fruit, so study and knowledge alone are not enough to propel the Christian into preaching activity and the bringing forth of Kingdom fruit. Some study much and gain knowledge, yet stay home and preach not. Just as in plants the more important force is shoot tension that comes from the urgent need of water in the treetops, so in Christians it is the surroundings and environment that urgently need truth that powerfully draws it from Jehovah’s servants. Surrounding us are millions who need the waters of truth desperately. Many are not aware of their need, but others are. “Happy are those who are conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3, NW) When they meet Jehovah’s witnesses they by inquiry and discussion draw out from these vessels of God the waters of truth. It is the presence of such needy, thirsty ones in the territories that draws Jehovah’s servants into the preaching work. Love moves God’s witnesses to make themselves available to the thirsty ones, to be at their disposal so that they can draw out the waters of truth and quench their spiritual thirst.
KEEPING THE WATER DEEP
This drawing power is shown at Proverbs 20:5, AS: “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Many times you will find that a man who has studied much and meditated in God’s law day and night is inclined to be preoccupied with his own thoughts. He may not speak much, may not volunteer unsolicited information. He does not make a display of his wisdom, but if you talk to him, question him, draw him out, you may learn much, things you never realized he knew. Often the ones who talk the most know the least. They spend so much time talking they have little left for learning. When you talk you teach, but when you listen you learn. There is a time for both, and neither should be neglected. It is necessary to study and store up truth in mind and heart like deep water; it is also necessary to prevent its becoming stagnant by making it available for others to draw upon. Once acquired, it must be made available to others.
Many in the territories for witnessing will not choose to draw out the spiritual truth waters, but there are others who are men of understanding, men who understand their spiritual need and crave understanding of Jehovah’s purposes. They will question the informed minister of Jehovah and thus draw out information previously stored in his mind and heart. The real sheep of Jehovah perform this mental labor with the zeal of a man dropping a bucket into a well and then pulling it up hand over hand to bring water to the surface for use. And this benefits the giver of the water of truth. When water is withdrawn from a well, fresh water seeps in to replace it. This keeps the water in the well from getting stale and stagnant, keeps it pure and fresh. So it is with us in the preaching work. To have our supply of truth waters tapped by men of good will and understanding, to have them draw out from our minds and hearts the truths that are there refreshes our own minds on these points that might otherwise become a little stale in our memories.
As we witness to others and more and more questions confront us, we must continually go to the Bible and draw from it to keep the water in our wells fresh and deep. If we do not, if we become shallow, if the waters of truth stored within us become low, an inquirer may drop the bucket of inquiry in and come up with it only half full, or a fourth full, and not have his thirst satisfied. His questions will not be fully answered. Instead of drawing out water of truth from us he may draw only a torrent of dry words. He cannot get water from a dry well. But there is no excuse for our wells to go dry. The Bible is an inexhaustible storehouse of water of truth. If we are men of understanding we will regularly resort to this Book of divine counsel that is like deep water, and from it we will draw plenty to keep ourselves filled to overflowing, so that when others draw on us they will not come up with only an empty bucket. Study!—2 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 5:12.
The question is, How much do we want to serve God? How much do we want to speak for him, to be equipped to speak for him, to be able to defend and give reasons for the new-world hope within us, to give answers seasoned with salt that will be tasty to the listener and that will work toward his preservation? (Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:15, NW) The only way we can show that we want to do this very much is to study very much, to learn the answers God in his Word gives to these questions. It does not take long to get some truth water in our system, but it will be shallow at first. Just as water may seep slowly into a well, so it takes time to get the waters of truth in our minds. To get the first shallow waters to deepen, to understand the deeper truths of God’s Word, to digest the strong meat of it, requires much private study and also reviewing and meeting attendance.
Proverbs 18:4 (AT) states: “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” Running water is fresh water, and deep wisdom should bubble forth for the refreshment of many. Our words should be deep waters, not shallow waters; they should come out as a bubbling brook, not a babbling brook. We should not be and will not be shallow babblers if we are truly interested in the deep waters of God’s Word. The things that interest us are the things that we remember. Some are interested more in gossip and idle rumors, which are to them dainty morsels, and these follies quickly penetrate their minds and lodge there, and are remembered and drawn forth on many occasions thereafter, to the hurt of both speaker and listener. It is as Proverbs 18:8 (AT) declares: “The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels; they penetrate into the innermost being.” Because gossipers are consumed with interest in such whisperings, they remember and cherish them and by means of them bring forth ungodly fruit. Jehovah’s witnesses, on the other hand, should not be interested in hearing or remembering or repeating such follies, but should be deeply interested in the truth waters of Jehovah’s Word, and when they study it and hear it it should penetrate to their innermost heart and fill them like a deep well, and they should thereafter delight to draw it forth at every opportunity and offer it to others.
“The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 10:4, 5, NW) You would not go out to level a fortress with a bean blower, would you? It would take more than a bean propelled by hot air to crash through a stronghold. A catapult hurling huge stones would be necessary. “Hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (Isa. 28:17) Shallow waters would hardly make an overflowing, but deep waters would be needed to flood out the lies and liars. Similarly, it requires heavy, weighty truths unerringly hurled to topple the false religious reasonings raised up against the knowledge of God, and a flood rather than a trickle of Bible proof to overflow the refuge of doctrinal lies behind which Christendom’s religious organizations hide. Also, our fight is against the “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places”, the leader of which, “the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” Would you try to ward off the attack of a lion with a pin when a sword was available? So why be shallow in knowledge and try to work with only a few scriptures that would be only a pinprick to Satan and his system, when by study we can have for use a complete “sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word”?—Eph. 6:12, 17; 1 Pet. 5:8, NW.
From all the foregoing, then, we can see the importance of study to get the waters of truth from the Bible into ourselves and then out to others, that Kingdom fruit may be produced abundantly. When we have the truth within us, and see all the blasphemies against Jehovah round about us, and the need of other sheep that thirst for the truth they could draw from us, we cannot in good conscience sit idly by, but feel pushed by our knowledge and drawn by the territory’s needs. As we preach and truth is drawn from us and the demand grows and the fruitage increases, we keep pace with the needs by studying more and more to get more and more truth, to keep it fresh and plentiful to answer all the questions.
Just as Christ Jesus talked to many to find the few, so we must approach hundreds to find one who is really interested. Jesus’ words were so framed as to test the hearers, to determine whether they were worthy of more complete knowledge or not, whether they were men who understood their spiritual need or not. He would use parables or illustrations. Many were intrigued by them, but after their utterance passed on. Why? Because they thought that was all they were, just little stories? No. For centuries that people had specialized in illustrations, they were used to them, their Scriptures were full of them, and Psalm 78:2 even foretold that their Messiah would open his mouth to them in parables and so teach them. So they knew that there was significant meaning behind the illustrations that Jesus spoke, but they were unwilling to draw out from him the hidden meaning and thus drink deeply of the waters of truth. They were not interested enough. They feared the meaning might be hard on them, expose them, bring no gain to them, mean a change for them in their selfish ways of living. They were not anxious for truth and preferred to remain blissfully ignorant, unresponsible, and so they walked off.—Matt. 13:1-15, 34, 35, NW.
But not all listeners walked out on him. Honest-hearted ones tarried. They understood their spiritual need, and inquired of Jesus the hidden meaning, and thus drew out from him more complete knowledge. To those who had a desire for knowledge more was given, but those who had no desire lost even what little knowledge they had. By illustrations Jesus eliminated the ones not interested, and then concentrated on the men of understanding who tarried to draw out the full meaning. (Matt. 13:16-18, 36, NW) Today Jehovah’s witnesses must go from door to door and make an introductory witness. The majority are not interested, but a few are attracted to the message, listen, and ask questions to draw out more information. On such interested ones the witnesses then concentrate by calling back and conducting studies.
But Christendom generally is as fruitless as was the Jewish nation at the time Jesus was on earth. That nation was pictured by a fig tree that bore no fruit, because that nation did not accept the Messiah and produce fruits of praise to God. In one illustration Jesus spoke of a fig tree that had gone fruitless for three years, and it was to be given one more year of special care to see whether it would produce fruit during this added season of opportunity. (Luke 13:6-9) Jesus gave this illustration in the fall of 32, after three years of preaching as Messiah. For those three years he had concentrated on the Jewish nation, but as a national organization it produced no acceptable fruit. A fourth season of special care and attention was to be allowed this tree. Then in the fourth year of his Messianic ministry, just three days before he was put to death by the Jewish nation, Jesus figures in another incident with a fig tree. Coming from Bethany toward Jerusalem he saw a leafy fig tree, but when he inspected it in search of fruit he found none, and the tree was cursed and it withered and died. (Mark 11:12-14, 20) So even with an added year of special care the Jewish nation as such bore no fruit, though it put up an appearance of godliness, just as the fig tree’s leafy display would lead one to expect fruit.
The Jewish nation withered and died so far as being a people for Jehovah’s name, but a remnant did not. They heard Jesus’ illustrations, liked them, drew out their hidden meanings by questioning, and followed Jesus in the preaching work. Their zeal eventually bore so much fruit that opposers screamed they were turning the world upside down. (Acts 17:6) Christians today must be just as zealous in their fruitfulness. They will be accused of turning this old world upside down because of teaching opposite to it; actually they point the way to a new world that will be rightside up and will so remain forever. To point the way effectively, we must study and be filled with the truths concerning that new world.
But our food is not just to take in knowledge by study. We must give it out by preaching in accord with Jehovah’s will. As Jesus said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34, NW) If we study the truth but never give it out it will become stagnant and we shall become introverts. Yet if we give it out but do not replenish it by more study we shall run dry of new material and get into a rut and fruitless routine. We must both study and preach. Get it in, then give it out. Keep the stream of truth flowing from the Bible to us and from us to others. If the column of sap in a plant is broken it ceases to flow. If the flow of truth from the Bible through us to others breaks, we wither and die spiritually, producing no fruit to God’s glory. And if we produce no good fruit Jehovah will not recognize us as his servants and we suffer destruction.—Matt. 7:16-20, NW.
If we produce good fruit we are good trees; if bad fruit, we are bad trees; if no fruit, we are lazy, useless trees fit only to be cast aside. (Jude 12; Rev. 3:15, 16) We should be good trees producing the fruits of life from God’s Word. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that is wise winneth souls.” (Prov. 11:30, AS) So in this work of life and death we must equip ourselves and use time wisely.
CONSERVING STRENGTH FOR FRUIT BEARING
If one only studied and quoted scriptures and displayed his knowledge and put on the appearance of being Christian but bore no fruits in Kingdom service, he would be like the fig tree whose only crop was showy leaves. That tree was full of sap, but the sap was used to no good purpose. The sap was used only to make a showy leafy appearance. We do not want to be as fruitless trees filled only with sap. The excess leaves and twigs we want to prune out so that the strength once used for them can be better used in fruit bearing. An orchard man prunes out unproductive branches so that the strength they used can be diverted to making fruit. By this pruning process the tree produces more fruit. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the cultivator. Every branch in me not bearing fruit he takes away, and every one bearing fruit he cleans, that it may bear more fruit.”—John 15:1-3, NW.
Roots can send up only so much sap. If it all goes into twigs and leaves there will be no fruit. So we must prune out the unfruitful branches so that the sap can work at making fruit. We have only so much time and energy. If we use it on nonessentials there is no time left for Kingdom fruitfulness. If we branch off into excessive viewing of television or movies or too many week-end jaunts or other pleasure pursuits that rob us of our time and energy, these branches that bear no fruit should be pruned off, cut out of our lives, so that in this time of opportunity we will not waste time in unfruitfulness. (Eph. 5:16, NW) This will make us more mature. And just as a tree produces more fruit as it reaches maturity, so also will it be with us.
As far as the preaching work is concerned, now is the time of summer, now is the time of harvest, now is the time for fruitfulness unto salvation. (Jer. 8:20) In winter the sap does not flow and fruit does not form. Trees that have produced no fruit by the time of Armageddon will be withered by fiery judgments. There will be no added season given for opportunity of belated fruit bearing. So now is the time to study and work and prepare for surviving Armageddon’s storm.
The root system of some big trees spreads over three acres and reaches far underground to get food and water. Not only does this root system feed the tree, but it also anchors it against uprooting by gales. Just so we must sink our minds deep into God’s Word, not only for spiritual food and drink but also to anchor us against windy worldly wisdom and stormy persecutions. Thus we can bear Kingdom fruit both “in favorable season, in troublesome season”. (2 Tim. 4:2, NW) Then when Armageddon comes and those who have sown the wind reap the whirlwind and are uprooted from the land of the living, we with our roots deep in God’s Word shall be able to stand upright in his sight and bear fruit to his praise forever in the new world.—Hos. 8:7; Heb. 13:15.