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Rooted in Christ

Mango fruit (s) is so delicious. When I was a kid in Mindanao I loved it so much, so much that, sometimes I ‘stole’ the neighbour’s mango, or any fruit close to the street, especially guava and Guanabana (soursop). When they were ripe and beautiful I was always tempted to pick them up without permission. I was a little bit naughtier in the late 1950s and 60s. Some of my contemporaries in Mindanao can tell you. I was not proud of it, being a pain to my parents. I remember our neighbour Mr. Ponce in Tupi, I took his ripe pineapple close to the road (and ran fast) because it was pleasant in my eyes, and just for my enjoyment. It was just for ‘fun’ being a small kid. This man loves me so much, because all his children at that time were girls, and he wanted to have a boy. He remarried, then the Lord gave him boys to enjoy. He was a good farmer and he had a lot of different fruits in his 4 hectare farm and he had beautiful large fishponds where we used to swim, 10 centavos for a whole day of swimming. That was big money in those days. He is now with the Lord, because he was a believer. Today Tupi, South Cotabato, is the “Fruit Basket” of Mindanao. Lots of pineapples, papaya, mangoes, rambutans, guavas and guanabana- that you would see in Divisoria, Manila are from our town and province. Even ‘Tuna’ are from Gensan. But how does a tree produce good fruits? We often talk about the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” such as love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). How about good roots?

A story is told of a farmer who had trees that consistently produced good fruits, and that was the main source of his livelihood- a money maker for him. Then one day he noticed the trees were dying and the small immature fruits drying up. This farmer was so focused on the fruits that he neglected nurturing, and watering the roots. If we always nurture the roots, we will always have good fruits, but neglecting them the plant becomes fruitless. Apostle Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love…”. So keep rooted in Christ by studying His Word and serve Him with gladness. Sometimes God ‘uproots’ us and put us ‘somewhere’ to be fruitful for His glory. Just like a fruit tree that is controlled and constrained in the same ground for years, its roots become bound and twisted, and gradually lose its nourishment. The tree cannot grow and produce beyond the limits of its environment. My wife has a management principle, “shape up or ship out” in an appropriate time. Sometimes favourable and (may be non-favourable) circumstances open the door of opportunity for greater service; or may be part of the discipline is to teach us to refocus to Jesus so that we could be a tree replanted by the rivers of water and be fruitful again. We are reminded in Proverbs 3:5-6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him…and He shall direct your path.” Keep growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. All by grace and grace alone!

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