When facilitating a leadership development/training session, I will often have the group read and ponder something that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the topic at hand. The purpose? To get the juices going. Google “get the juices going” and you’ll see close to 50,000 hits. Getting the juices going is synonymous to jump-starting one’s thinking, maybe even waking up the mind (caffeine for the brain?). Artists and writers often refer to getting their “creative juices” going.
I’ve been writing this blog for 2 1/2 years now. I find I cannot just sit down and write a post without something first sparking those creative juices. Sometimes the juices are a result of a conversation with someone, but more often related to something from scripture that I’ve read and pondered. Like this post…
I am slowly working my way through the book of Psalms. With the help of A.A. Anderson’s Commentary, I park on a Psalm for a time, then move on when I feel like I’m done gleaning from it for the present. I just wrapped up Psalm 92 yesterday. From the Voice translation, Psalm 92 concludes with…
12 Those who are devoted to God will flourish like budding date-palm trees;
they will grow strong and tall like cedars in Lebanon.
13 Those planted in the house of the Lord
will thrive in the courts of our God.
14 They will bear fruit into old age;
even in winter, they will be green and full of sap.
They will bear fruit into old age!
Living in my 8th decade, this got my attention. Poking around in Anderson and other resources, I discovered that a better rendering of the Hebrew for this might be “They will still be full of juice in old age.” My interest was completely piqued!
Still pondering this “full of juice” thought, I read John 15 today (Jesus’ “I am the vine and you are the branches” narrative). In this discourse we read…
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Here we have fruit-bearing again! I have read this passage many times. This time I found myself hearing it differently. Could the “full of juice” concept fit this? I think absolutely so!
In past readings, I think my focus has been on “you will bear much fruit.” I suspect I am not alone – who doesn’t want to bear much fruit? A lofty objective. So American and Western of us! We easily find ourselves focused on the outcome. But focusing on bearing fruit will not bear more fruit. Think about that! In fact, it might be a deterrent. In this statement, I don’t think Jesus was telling his disciples to focus on bearing fruit. Jesus was reminding them to dwell, remain, and abide in Him. Jesus wants our focus to be him, not fruit-bearing. Why?
I suspect that when we remain in him, the juices will flow from Him through us which results, organically, in fruit-bearing. We can’t stop it from happening. We will be green and full of sap! We will bear fruit! We don’t want to miss that fruit-bearing isn’t primarily numerical (again, Western thinking). More likely, we should be thinking of the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit as described by the Apostle Paul…
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… (Galatians 5:22-23).
Well, my juices are certainly flowing. Hopefully this gets your juices going, too!