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Saturday , 2 July 2022

Non-negotiable fruit

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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she has fulfilled – teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email evamarie09@bigpond.com for comments or feedback on this story).
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.    Colossians 3:14       

I have some lemon trees in my front garden. My bedroom overlooks these plants so I see them every day, blooming and bearing fruit. They have become an inspiration to me, reminding me that if a lemon tree can bear fruit, in and out of season, why couldn’t I? 

I have been renewed in the Holy Spirit over 20 years now; surely I should not be the same person that I was before; as a transformed Christian, I must be able to show some evidence of spiritual maturity, otherwise, I need to take Holy Spirit Lesson 101 all over again. 

It is understood that the fruit of the Spirit is the expression of our renewed nature as it is seen by others. Jesus said we are known by our fruit. Jesus is very clear in His command: love God and love of neighbour. We cannot accept one and reject the other. In Matthew 12:33 we are told that a good tree bears good fruit, while a bad tree bears bad fruit, and for that, the tree is known by its fruit.

exciting quotes on vegetables
exciting quotes on vegetables

St Paul talks about these in detail in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, self-control.” This month I would want to witness to the fruit of love as it is first on the list, attesting to the fact that love covers all the other fruits or virtues. And February, also known as the month of love (Valentine’s Day), could be an appropriate subject.

Many moons ago, when I was much younger, February was my favourite month. Suitors and boyfriends proved their love and passion by sending flowers, chocolates, gifts, nice dinners and their presence on that day. When I did not receive proof of their love, I was highly disappointed and rejected. Then of course the day passed, the chocolate had been eaten, the flowers wilted, the present hidden in the cupboard. The suitor moved on to another girl, and the boyfriend committed himself to another relationship. We realise that this is not the kind of love Jesus talks about. Love in Jesus’s definition is the wilful desire to treat others as God has treated us in Christ.

We as Christians are expected to demonstrate the love that is based on the two great commandments – love of God and of neighbour. We are taught that all other fruits operate from love. We cannot have patience, goodness, or gentleness if we don’t have love.

Our expression of love can fluctuate, depending on our circumstances –when I am tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, I have a low level of “love” in that I translate it to mean caring or being compassionate to someone; I may be less “loving” in listening to someone’s woes when my day is full or hectic. How do I make my definition of love then more stable or more constant – by remembering the kind of faithful love God shows me every day. By being gentle to myself as well, and being led by the Holy Spirit to be grateful for the love God outpours. And that indeed, as long as I have this genuine desire to express this kind of love God has for me to others, although imperfect and flawed, I can still try to seek the highest good for the other person.

One day, after Sunday church, celebrating joyfully with heartfelt worship songs, I stopped by McDonald’s for lunch. It was a very hot day. I was hungry and my patience was short. The crew member was in training, and she could not place my order at the time I was expecting. I needed to repeat my order about 5 times. Of course, I could not blame her, for my cappuccino itself is a complex task for any barista! When the Angus burger came, it was not even what I ordered! I felt my blood pressure rising and the temptation to snarl at her for being incompetent was very real. But because I have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit, I was held in check. 

I heard a still small voice telling me: “you have a choice to be calm, understanding, and loving or let loose with your worldly rude manners.” Whew! If God did not give me the grace to know His love and mercy, I would have regretted my action and perhaps live that day or the week even in spiritual misery as Holy Spirit conviction follows soon after.  In my walk with God, I am reminded constantly that love is non-negotiable in a true Christian’s life. 

Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde in his homily on 5 November 2006 sums it up beautifully: If we love ourselves correctly, then we can love others — our neighbour — correctly as well. We love them by desiring their total welfare, including their eternal salvation. We love them by reaching out to assist them in their spiritual or material needs. This love for others must be tangible, visible and effective. Without any doubt, loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves is central to our living as disciples of Christ and members of His Body, the Church

 “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi

(For comments or feedback, email evamarie09@bigpond.com)


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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she has fulfilled – teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email evamarie09@bigpond.com for comments or feedback on this story).

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