“Gifts are given. Fruits are grown.” – Pastor Julius Fabregas at our staff meeting. It was a great word about how the joy of the Lord can fill our hearts as we do what each of us does in the ministry. Among many other things, I took note of it, and I reflected on it further the following day.
But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
So yeah it makes sense. These things are not instant. People don’t change permanently overnight. Not because you’ve given your life to Christ, you automatically, instantly exude all these. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to grow this fruit (yup, I just checked the verse again, it’s singular; all of those is one fruit), first inside our hearts, then outward behavior will follow.
I acknowledge that I get easily irritated by anything that’s not purpose-driven. And yes, for me to conclude execution or implementation as illogical and without purpose is judgmental. When I encounter situations like that, I have two options: to lash out in anger, or to expend more energy to converse with kindness.
I remember so many years back, we were going to watch the La Salle-Ateneo UAAP basketball championship live. Knowing the coliseum does not allow patrons to bring in outside food/drinks, before entering the gate we bought coffee from the Starbucks located at the coliseum, which has entrances from the front of the coliseum where the cue to the coliseum gate was, and from the inside of the coliseum. Upon entering, the bouncer did not allow us to take in our drinks. “But I bought these from here,” I said. “So if I put this back in Starbucks and get it from the inside, that’s fine?” He said yes. ? Long story short, I argued and lashed out in frustration, left our drinks on the floor, and told the bouncer “Oh yan, sayo na yan!” I would have been a victim of cyber bullying if my actions were caught on cam and social media was common then. By that time, I had already made Jesus my Lord and Savior for about five years. Yup, so disappointing and embarrassing. ? I have since then asked God to forgive me for letting anger get the best of me, but it took years to see traces of improvement.
I realize that the best soil to grow this fruit is during those moments when we have those two options right in front of us—that moment when we’re at the brink of immediately acting on our emotions, eager to prove our point, eager to win an argument at whatever cost. It is in those moments that we can take a deep breath before saying anything, ask the Holy Spirit to work in us what seems impossible, take the back seat, and let the Spirit lead. It is in those moments when we can either become better at arguing, or grow better fruit. Well, allow the Holy Spirit to grow His fruit.
“Move in the opposite spirit,” a friend would always say. If someone is being impatient, be patient. If someone is being unreasonable, be reasonable. Fight fire attacks with water, not fire. Looking back, I noticed that when I don’t give in to my anger urges, I usually come out of it successfully getting the other person to understand where I am coming from, I get to understand the other person better, and we get to work out a solution together (yes, this is true even when talking to customer service agents). I come out of it a better person, and I believe, so does the other person.
I am the author of the book, When God Could’ve But He Didn’t. I am the happy wife of my happy husband, Pao. As I write this, both of us are happily hoping for at least two more children. I’m excited that the first paperback edition of my book is going to be available soon!