The Fruit of Kindness

Love_cropped

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

– Micah 6:8

Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly.

How timely these words are! How relevant. How powerful that prophetic words written over two thousand years ago are still able to be applied to our lives today. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still wants us to do justice, He still wants us to love kindness, and He still wants us to walk humbly with Him.

All three of these words go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. They are each dependent on one another. We need justice that comes forth out of kindness and humility. We need kindness that works from humility and towards justice. We need humility that works with kindness to produce justice.

Our world is hungry for the fruit of kindness – it’s time for us to get to work giving it out.

In Life on the Vine,  Phillip Kenneson says that kindness is the most outwardly visible of the spiritual fruits. He says, “Kindness is neither a state of mind nor an invisible attitude or emotion. Neither do we think people kind simply because they refrain from doing unkind things. Rather, we regard people as kind because they go out of their way, often quietly and without fanfare, to engage in kind actions.”

Kindness is love in action.

Kindness is the act of sharing joy with others.

Kindness is the act of making peace with others.

Kindness is the act of being patient with others.

Actions speak louder than words – so what are our actions telling the world about Jesus?

Do our actions reveal His kindness?

Did you know that the Greek word for Christ is “Christos” and the Greek word for kindness is “Chréstos”? The two words are so similar that early Christians were often called “the kind ones” – I love how God uses language to speak so much to the truth of His character. But are we living up to that name? Are we truly living Christ-like lives? Are we truly portraying ourselves to be “the kind ones”?

Kindness comes easy to us when we’re helping someone who looks like us, thinks like us, is clearly in need, and is willing and able to return the favor. It’s easy to be kind to someone who has been kind to you, but kindness becomes difficult when God calls us beyond the borders of our comfort zone. It’s easy to speak kindly to someone who agrees with you, but it becomes increasingly more difficult to be kind towards someone who is hostile and argumentative. Kindness is easy when we’re simply repaying the kindness of others, but it becomes more difficult when God asks us to be kind to our enemies – those who have treated us harshly and unfairly.

 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:27-36

Anger is reactive. Anger is an emotional response to injustice, and there is a such thing as righteous anger – but kindness is proactive. Kindness takes thought and intention. Kindness ultimately leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) – and repentance leads to forgiveness and reconciliation. We don’t win people to Jesus through arguments and debates, we win people to Jesus through kindness and compassion. In Ephesians 4:31-32, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

This type of kindness is not easy. If it were easy, it would not be a fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit makes it supernatural. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to love, to forgive, and to be kind to those who do not “deserve” it or did not “earn” it. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, not of the flesh. Our flesh cannot produce true and genuine kindness, because our flesh is too focused on the self. We live in a world that values independence and self-sufficiency. We live in a world that gives only when we expect something in return, but that’s not the type of kindness God calls us to. The kindness of God is more than a currency exchanged for goods or services, the kindness of God is an investment in a kingdom we cannot see with our physical eyes.

When we find it hard to show kindness – we need to remember our own story. We need to look back and remember where God brought us from. We need to remember the kindness, the grace, and the mercy He showed to us. As the Israelite’s did in Deuteronomy 8, we need to remember the wildernesses He has led us through. We need to remember how He delivered us. We need to remember how He humbled us – how He fed us when we were hungry, clothed us when we were naked, and gave us water when we were thirsty. We need to remember how He protected us, how He delivered us, and how He forgave us for our many faults and failures. We need to remember that it was not us who got us where we are – it was only the goodness of God! We can love because He first loved us. We can be merciful because He first showed us mercy. We can be gracious because He first gave us grace. We are not self-sufficient, we are grace sufficient – and His grace gives us strength. His grace gives us the ability to act with kindness and compassion. His grace is our strength in times of weakness.

When we find it hard to show kindness – we need to listen to the stories of others. We need to remember that people who have been hurt, will hurt others, because that is what they know. When we listen to them with genuine care and concern, it catches them off guard. It’s unfamiliar, they’re not used to it. When we understand that they may be acting out of anger, hurt, and frustration – then we can begin to put ourselves in their shoes. We can allow our empathy for them to drive our actions towards them. Look for the areas where people may be hurting – and pray for them. Look for the areas where people may be in need – and serve them. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples – that included Judas who would betray Him and Peter who would deny Him – but Jesus did not allow His hurt to hinder His kindness and compassion. He acted against His flesh, He acted within the Spirit – and He showed grace and mercy. He showed kindness, even though He knew it would not be returned to Him. Let us be like Jesus.

We must not only be kind, but we also must learn to accept kindness when it is given to us. In this world that promotes independence and self-sufficiency, asking for help or accepting help is often seen as a sign of weakness or failure. We do not want to be a burden to others. We do not want to feel as if we “owe” something to others. When we accept gifts of kindness from others, we feel indebted to them and we feel obligated to reciprocate their kindness. Love binds us to one another, so we often put up walls to avoid this type of connection. We do not want to be dependent on others – but we are. We are created for connection. Self-sufficiency is a myth; an illusion. We need others, and we need to learn to recognize that God did not put us on this earth to do it alone. God created Eve as a helper for Adam. God knew we would need other helpers along this journey – that’s why He puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and that’s why He gives us a body of believers to help us live out the great commission (Acts 2:42-47). We are not alone.

When we attempt to “settle the score” by paying someone back or immediately reciprocating their act of kindness, we are diminishing the value of their gift. I’ve often heard people say, “Don’t rob me of my blessing!” When others feel led to give, let them give. When others reach out their hand to help, reach out and accept it. We must humble ourselves to be kind, and we also must humble ourselves to accept kindness at times. God gives us what we need, when we need it, and He often uses other people to do it.

We need to learn to see other people as gifts for the kingdom rather than as threats to our own self-sufficiency. We work best when we work together. Our gifts compliment one another. We can’t allow this world to continue dividing us. In such an individualistic society, we begin to believe that our talents and abilities belong to us. We begin to believe that our money and resources belong to us. We begin to believe that we earned what we have, that we deserve what we’ve been given – rather than viewing it as a gift of God’s grace. We invest our gifts and abilities back into ourselves, only doing things and saying things that will profit us, only buying and purchasing things that would benefit us. When we withhold kindness, we are hoarding the gifts that God has given us, but in Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us to not to store up treasures on this earth. He tells us instead to store up treasures in Heaven. Kindness is an investment in people. Kindness is an investment in the Kingdom of Heaven. Kindness plants a seed that we may never see come to fruition on this side of Heaven, but we continue planting the seed because we are trusting God to bring the rain and produce the harvest. We need to examine our hearts and examine our gifts. We need to use what God has given us. We need to give out of the abundance God has given to us. We need to be His hands and feet. We need to extend His grace as He has extended it to us. We need to put our love and compassion into action. We need to look for opportunities to show kindness – and we need to be obedient when God calls us to action.

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor”

– Proverbs 21:21

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s