A Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop
After patience, the next fruit of the Spirit is kindness. Interestingly, Paul lists kindness right after patience in another list as well. In 1 Corinthians 13:4, Paul starts listing the characteristics of love by saying, “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Patience and kindness seem to go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and chocolate.
As we learned in my last post, patience has to do with controlling your anger; it is inaction or NOT doing something – not cussing someone out, not hitting someone, not acting upon your anger even if it is justified. For God, patience is not executing judgment and wrath upon us even though we are all sinners and deserve it.
Kindness goes one step further: kindness is acting out your love by doing something for someone else. Kindness “expresses itself in action; those who are kind treat others in the same way as God has treated them” (Fung, NICNT, p. 268). Kindness might be expressed by giving someone a gift, paying for someone’s groceries, letting someone in during rush hour, or paying someone a compliment. It doesn’t have to be costly or expensive because we can never top God’s ultimate act of kindness when He gave His Son to die for us so that we never have to face His wrath for our sins if we make Jesus our savior and Lord.
Kindness has an amazing effect on people. When we are kind, we partner with God to lead others to repentance. (Romans 2:4) It is kindness that gets a sinner’s attention. You can argue, threaten, scream, and preach at a sinner until you are blue in the face, but one act of kindness is more convincing than many words.
Think about it for yourself. Would you listen to someone who constantly judges you or to someone who does things for you even when you don’t deserve it? God graciously gives us life, provision, salvation, and sometimes even stuff we ask for that we don’t really need because He is kind. We should do the same.
This is easy to understand when we are referring to “sinners,” but it is easy to forget that we still sin too. Paul wasn’t talking about just being kind to strangers or our unsaved friends and family; he was talking specifically about being kind to other Christians. In Ephesians 4:32 he states it clearly. “Be kind to one another.” So Romans 2:4 applies especially among Christians. When a Christians sins, we should not be quick to judge them and show them the door. We should act as God has towards us and be kind for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
So many have left the church because when they confessed their sin or when someone found out that they were (SURPRISE!) not perfect, they were judged and shunned rather than treated with patience and kindness. No one wants to repent in an environment like that. But what if Christians were known for being kind? What if deeds of the flesh like hatred and jealousy and selfish ambition were left outside church circles where they belong and we started doing random and intentional acts of kindness? Maybe then we could taste the fruit of kindness, which is repentance from sins. Maybe then we would truly repent of our own sins and not be so quick judge others.
So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:3-4)
Other relevant blogs:
A Fruit of the Spirit is Peace
A Fruit of the Spirit is…Patience
Thanks Jon. Your post is truly inspired by the Lord. I needed a “friendly” reminder of this fruit-kindness. I had a situation occur earlier with a fellow brother in the ministry and his comments were somewhat abrasive. I felt the presence of anger stirring but I maintained my demeanor and listened. Thanksgiving surfaced when I realized God’s sovereignty in the matter as I had not taken any steps that would have been considered inappropriate regarding church ethics/politics / tradition. I stayed focused on that gratitude and held my peace. In reflection I wanted to respond and the need to get some air surfaced. When I came back in I was led to my email and read your post. Kindness is the best response. God bless you.