“But the fruit of the Spirit is kindness.” – Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
Kindness is a basic need of every human. Down through the ages, many efforts have been made to motivate and reward people in order to meet this need at different levels. Sermons have been preached, coaching done, books written, and other measures taken to appeal to our shared humanity to help us to open the blocked reservoir of the “milk of human kindness.” May the LORD Himself pour into our hearts this milk and make us bear this fruit of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.
1. KINDNESS, ALWAYS APPLYING THE GOLDEN RULE
- Prejudice blocks the way of those who would like to practise the Golden Rule.
- Kindness starts with caring; being tender-hearted and compassionate toward others. We must make it our goal and habit to be actively looking for opportunities to show kindness.
- Kindness is listening to the hurt even if they are not our kind, or even if they don’t adhere to our religion.
- Kindness is applying the Golden Rule to all – even those beyond our sociological or ethnic circle. ‘Do to others what you would have them to do to you’ – Matthew 7:12, is the key to a majestic kindness that changes the world.
2. KINDNESS, ANGER WASHED BY GRACE
Kindness is the hallmark of God’s control of our lives. People who have submitted themselves to God’s control exhibit this grace. What is the evidence of kindness in life? Kind people are interruptible. They can stop what they are doing and care for others.
Jesus’ biography appears sometimes a haphazard hodgepodge of good deeds. Why is this so when He came to establish the kingdom of God? Because Jesus’ compassion allowed Him to be interrupted by the need of others; His great heart of kindness could not pass by anyone’s call for help. So He established the kingdom, but never by being unkind to the needy who thronged about Him throughout His ministry. Kindness is controlling our emotions and allowing the needs of others to interrupt our scheduled lives.
The world is looking for kindness. When people see our lives of openness and accessibility, then God opens a door for us to minister to them. In fact, kindness paves the way for our service. Kindness brings God close to those who need Him.
3. KINDNESS AS A WORLD VIEW
Amos 5:11-13 tells us the story of kindness by showing what unkindness is. The unkind in Amos’s day built stone mansions, elaborately landscaped with lush vineyards. Yet, they continued to take from the poor. Amos points to the unkind and calls them to repentance. He promises that judgement will come upon those who continually disregard the need of others.
Despite our own comfortable existence, we can become overwhelmed with the needs of the world. We wonder how one person can make any difference. We find we have little time to spare for the poor. Kindness is our willingness to care about others who may not have our standard of living. But the bottom line is that God expects our compassion. Citizens of God’s kingdom model the attributes of God and help others. God desires our kindness to spread His healing to others. As we show kindness to others, we share God with them and take away their sorrows. Surely kindness and empathy will heighten our own relationship with Christ.
4. KINDNESS AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
God is kind, and His ultimate display of kindness was the sacrifice of His Son for the sins of all people. God loved the world so much that His kindness was spent to the very last drop of Christ’s blood. God created humanity to glorify Him, yet humans sinned and did not glorify Him. In fact, human rebellion required God to answer humanity’s sin with the life of His Son. The kindness of God leads the world to repentance. What a heavy penalty must be levied against all those who see the kindness of Calvary and walk past it unchanged.
5. KINDNESS, THE APPROACH TO GRACE
Josiah experienced the kindness of God first-hand (2 Chronicles 34:19-28). He understood God’s kindness when he became the recipient of God’s grace. Josiah knew his people and nation had sinned and forgotten God. Yet this king received incredible news from God: Josiah would be spared from disaster. His humility and contrition had led to forgiveness. God demonstrated grace to Josiah through these simple words, ‘I have heard you’.
When we consider God’s redeeming love in our lives, we are able to separate the smaller, everyday kindness of God from the truly great kindness of being spared from punishment for our sins. That is the grace of God and the kindness of Christ. Kindness and grace are sisters, if not identical twins. Martin Luther wrote that Jesus’ kindness is but God’s approach to grace and that we would do well to emulate Jesus’ kindness.
PRACTICAL WAYS OF SHOWING KINDNESS
- All humans continually enjoy the kindness of God and man on a regular basis. It might not be in the form or amount that we expect, but when we reflect on it, we will find ourselves as beneficiaries of more acts of kindness than we previously thought. And once we are beneficiaries, we need to become donors.
- Being kind is not as difficult as many make it out to be. When linked to the right Source—Jesus Christ, through His indwelling Spirit—every human will become a healthy, fruit-laden branch of kindness, offering the fruit to people within our close spheres of influence and beyond.
- Kindness is not a cloak that we can put on and off at will, but a way of life that we must adopt. If we are kind, it will reflect in our thoughts, words and actions. In our minds, kindness will prevail over hasty judgements, condemnation of others, evil suspicions, and surmising, evil plotting, anger, envy, jealousy, and hate will have no place there.
- If we are kind, our words will be seasoned with grace. Insults, slander, gossip, lies, curses and other foul words will not proceed from our mouths nor will we utter blasphemy. We will encourage, bind, heal, bless and spread sunshine to others with our words. Harsh, angry, resentful words will find no place on our tongue, and nothing that stings, shocks, or shames will we speak to another.
- Kindness in our actions will be manifest in thoughtful deeds and the offer of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness to all, restitution to those we have wronged, restoration of the repentant, relieving of burdens of the young, the old, the sick and suffering. We will respond to observed needs and give hope to those bowed in shame and pain.
To Ponder: “kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.” As you sow the seeds of the unique message of the gospel to others, remember to water it liberally with kindness, in your thoughts, words, and actions. Then, watch it grow – Frederick William Faber
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By Dr Joyce Aryee, the author