Faith Lessons From the Olive Tree

Olives and olive trees played an influential role in Bible times and in Scripture. They furnished food, ointment, illumination, heat, and an essential ingredient for making soap. The evergreen tree is a remarkable tree! It has an extensive root system which enables it to withstand wind, heat, and drought. And in its native arid and rocky Mediterranean habitat, it can produce fruit for over 1000 years!

The winds batter and gnarl its branches. And heat, drought, and internal decay bend and deform the trunk. Yet the olive tree only grows stronger and more beautiful with each storm and with the passage of time.

The olive tree’s incredible roots

But the olive tree’s true secret to survival is its incredible root system. The Mediterranean region receives scant rainfall during its hot arid summers. And because most of it remains close to the ground surface, the soil dries out rapidly. But the olive tree has a secondary system of shallow roots, known as a flocculent root system. Which enables it to take in water even during severe periods of drought. Thanks to this special system the olive tree never fully dries out.

God wants us to be like the olive tree, flourishing even even during times of extreme drought.

But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God. I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.

Psalm 52:8 CSB

Five olive tree traits for a strong faith

Five things the olive tree can teach us about growing a strong faith.

1. Be well-rooted

As the olive tree sends its roots out at many levels and in all directions, we need to take in all parts of Scripture. Thus becoming well-rooted in God’s word. So that even in times of spiritual drought or trouble we will stand strong in the Lord.

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.

Colossians 2:6-7 CSB

2. Strength through purity

We’ve probably all seen photos of olive trees with their bent and twisted trunks. But did you know that those trunks are also often hollow, caused by internal decay? A fact that actually proves the tree’s strength and endurance. Despite the damage, it remains strong and bears fruit.

We’re a lot like the olive tree – full of internal decay. Full of thoughts, words, and actions that are unworthy of Christ and his love.

And yet, when we allow him to, God continues to help us grow and change. He purifies our character, infusing it with his righteousness and strength. Enabling us to bear fruit even during adversity and difficulty.

So that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10 CSB

3. Cling to Christ and his word

Olive trees can cling to steep rocky hillsides where other crops cannot grow. And in this way they protect those areas from erosion, landslides, and barrenness.

Likewise, when we cling to God’s word with the tenacity of an olive tree, we grow in our Christian life. And as we remain anchored to biblical truth, we prevent sound doctrine from eroding.

Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16 CSB

4. Embrace the beauty of your scars

Long has man extolled the olive as a tree of beauty. Which is really quite amazing. By all logic, it should seem unsightly to us, with its bent and misshapen trunk. And its twisted, gnarled branches deformed by the onslaught of wind and weather. Yet it’s those defects that give it beauty. A beauty that only grows with each storm and the onslaught of nature.

We are also often battered and beaten by the storms of life. Trials and troubles cause wounds and suffering. Wounds that often take years to heal, and leave internal scars and trauma.

But when we place our lives in God’s care he takes all that’s ugly and turns it into beauty. His light and goodness shine through this beauty. Even with all our imperfections and failures.

To provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair.And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord

Isaiah 61:3 CSB

5. Bear up under the weight of trials

The olive tree produces abundant fruit. So much, in fact, that much of it gets made into oil. But before the olives can yield that oil, they must undergo pressing.

Our lives must undergo a pressing process as well before they can bear spiritual fruit. And that is always a painful process.

Before his arrest Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, which means olive press. And there, pressed down by the weight of his future suffering, he sweated actual drops of blood.

We often face crushing trials and troubles too. However, they are what produce fruit in our lives. The Lord uses them to change us and make us more like him. Through them, he works his character into our lives, removing our internal decay and sickness. And replacing it with his strength, beauty, and holiness.

He builds within us a faith as strong as an olive tree. One that can withstand life’s storms and times of drought. And hold up under the weight of trials and difficulties.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 CSB

Images from by David Padfield: Olive press & olive tree | Olive branch hanging over sea by leszek kruk | Other images ©SignorMario.

18 thoughts on “Faith Lessons From the Olive Tree

  1. We visited the Garden of Gethsemane, and saw the ancient olive trees.

    I thought that there would be a hushed silence here, as pilgrims remembered the Lord’s passion.

    But no, it was noisy – people were discussing their grandchildren, sports, etc.

    Jesus understands the frailty of human nature.
    Great post. Thanks !


    1. Glad you liked it Sally! I sure learned a lot from reading up on olive trees and from our local farmers. We have two olive trees in our little garden, and we love the hushed silence we usually find there. All we usually hear are birds and insects, or sometimes a farmer with his tractor. So if you’d like olive trees plus quiet, come on over! Abruzzo is the place for it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of your best ever! I love the comparisons between us and the olive tree–its tenaciousness and strength, even through the tough times of storms and harsh weather. The fact that the trunks are hollow and full of decay and still able to bear fruit speaks to the goodness of God in choosing to use us, even though we’re marred by sin. Thanks for this, my friend.


    1. Thanks so much, Dayle. You are such an encourager! Isn’t the olive an amazing tree? I love looking at them, each so different with their amazing shapes and their abilit to not only survive, but thrive. Lord, give me a faith such as this!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David described himself as an olive tree in Psalm 52:8. You’ve given many reasons why such a metaphor must have come to his mind! ‘Praising God right now, that in spite of internal decay and sickness in my life, he delights to manifest his strength and beauty. Amen, Sheila!


    1. I know, I love that Scripture, Nancy! But for lack of time and space, I couldn’t include all the aspects or Scriptures that speak of olive trees. It’s funny, because I’ve know for years now that olive tree trunks often turn hollow, but until I started researching I didn’t know why. And that’s when it jumped out at me that our internal lives are so similar. We can be eternally grateful that he is taking away our internal decay, clearing out all the soul sickness, and making us like him. He is so good to us!! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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