BY ELDER DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
The Roots of Restlessness
Memory Text: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16, ESV).
Aspens are beautiful trees, reaching 45 to 90 feet (15 to 30 meters) in height. They thrive in cold climates with cool summers. Their wood is used in furniture and also for making matches and paper. Deer and other animals often feed on young aspen trees during hard winters, as their bark contains many nutrients. Aspens need lots of sunshine, and they grow all the time—even in winter, making them important winter food sources for different animals.
Aspens, however, are most notorious for the fact that they have one of the largest root systems in the plant world. The roots spread by underground suckers and form a colony that can spread relatively quickly, covering large areas. Individual aspen trees can live up to 150 years, but the larger organism below the ground can live for thousands of years.
SABBATH: Known as the “tree for life”, aspens can live for 150 years. It is seasonal; can thrive in winter & summer, & has a height of 15-30 meters. Also, it needs lots of light & often used to make furnitures or serves as food for diverse animals. One aspen is just part of a whole, a larger organism (roots) is beneath that can live for 1,000 years. Like the roots of aspen, some sins that hinder rest in Christ are unseen.
SUNDAY: Ironically, “the Prince of Peace” once said that He did not come to bring peace but sword in the world (Isa. 9:6, Matt. 10:34-39). As shocking as it seems, Jesus was reiterating the need to put God first (Micah 7:6). In His earthly work, He promoted love for both neighbors & enemies. How then can He bring division? He talked of the dilemma of putting God first above family. This, Adam failed to do (5T, p. 87).
MONDAY: “Selfishness is as natural as breathing” for most of us. Often, we’re tempted to put our desires/wants above that of others & even God. As in the unseen large aspen root, selfishness is part of the larger root of sin (Luke 12:13-21). In planning ahead, we should plan with God. His will must supersede our desires. Christ was selfless towards humanity (Phil. 2:5-8). Be selflessly driven (Matt. 6:20).
TUESDAY: Jesus reproved the pride & ambition of His disciples as they argued on who should be seen as the greatest amongst them (Luke 22:14-30). Ambition has the affinity to make people restless, as in the disciples (Matt. 18:1). The long time of service under their selfless Tutor could not drive away their selfish ambitions. Christ revealed the need of possessing the simplicity of a child to be called great in Heaven.
WEDNESDAY: Hypocrisy is when one does not walk his/her talk or practice what he/she preaches. Hypocrites are playacts (see Matt. 23:1-13). Christ openly rebuked the hypocritical acts of the Pharisees & scribes (Matt. 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29; 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7-9; 22:18). The Pharisees & Sadducees didn’t walk their talk, made religion harder for others, sought for praises, & called for the honor due God (DA, p. 620).
THURSDAY: How then shall we do away with restlessness? It begins with Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, & the life. His Spirit leads us beside the still waters & in the right direction (John 14:1-6; 16:13; 10:10). Christ offers relief when we’re stressed & guidance in this media-saturated world. He is able to uplift us from low plains to higher plains & is the author & finisher of our faith/future (Phil. 1:6; Jer. 3:22).
FRIDAY: The spirit of selfishness is the spirit of Satan. It caused the fall of Satan—It doesn’t promote, but it rather demotes. Those who are selfish impede growth in their lives. Focus on the interest of others & put God first. Talk of the love of Christ & His goodness. Carry the burdens of others. If selfishness is submerged in God’s grace, a 5 minute talk will be enough to settle disputes in church meetings.
—Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 67, 68 & Early Writings, p. 119.
5T- Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5
DA- The Desire of Ages
Pharisees- They were interested in the written & oral law & focused on ritual purity.
Sadducees- They spoke Greek & didn’t believe judgement or an afterlife. They were wealthy leaders.
SUNDAY- Jesus Brings Division
THURSDAY- Uprooting Restlessness
📌 In class, think about practical ways of overcoming selfishness. How can you keep each other accountable so that these ideas can become a reality?
📌 Ambitions are not inherently bad. Yet, how can we anticipate and imagine great things from God without falling into the trap of being consumed by ambition?
📌 Most of us don’t show ambition, hypocrisy, selfishness, or envy on the outside. We are very capable of offering a more benign facade. Like the huge root system of an aspen tree, however, all these negative characteristics lurk below the surface. What does Spiritguided character transformation look like in practice? How can we overcome the root of restlessness and find true rest in Jesus?
📌 Dwell more on your answer to Thursday’s final question about the importance of the Second Coming. After all, without it, what hope do we have? Without it, what good would Christ’s first coming have done for us, knowing that the dead sleep until the resurrection, which happens only at the Second Coming?