Proverbs 30 4-30-22

We remember word pictures (metaphors) much better and longer than we do facts. It’s why Jesus told stories.

4:3 For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.

The metaphor of the Vine that Jesus uses in John 15:1-8 is chocked full of word pictures; some translations can give the wrong impression. Here’s the verse that bears the brunt of such impressions:

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. NASB

6 For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry sticks that men pick up and use for the firewood. J.B. Phillips

I chose to share the Phillips version because of its unique description of what happens when we don’t abide in Christ. Abiding in Christ has many word pictures all of its own, but, to me, it all comes down to relationship. The interaction between us and Christ is vital for spiritual health and growth. Another word picture would be a coal that is removed from the fire. Over time, it cools off and has no more heat; put it back in the fire and it glows once again.

Christ was talking to His disciples; Judas had left (John 13:30), so He wasn’t talking to him. Jesus was preparing them for the coming of the Spirit (John 14:26) and wanted them to be prepared for what was coming (Pentecost). His warning about not abiding was not about salvation or eternal destination, but about connection. We, too, must learn to turn in our minds to the Spirit within us and listen to what He is saying. The small tensions that we feel are from Him! When we head in the right direction, we feel His peace.

We need not worry about being deemed worthless like the branch that was cast into the fire. Our worth is not wrapped up in what we do or don’t do for the Lord. He loves us just as we are. We are worth “more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31).”* The worth of something is figured on how much a person is willing to pay for the item. In our case, Christ paid the ultimate price for us: His life. Why? To show us just how much the He loves us! Not only that, the Father wants us to join Him in His redemptive work in and among mankind. Let’s join Him!

Abba, joining You in Your work is such an honor. Thank You for inviting us! May we treat this honor with the gravity it deserves. Amen.

*Romans 3:12 is translated “worthless” in many translations, but the actual translation is, “useless, corrupted.” The idea is that we are unwilling and resistant vessels in the Father’s hands. The NASB gets Romans 3:12 right.

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