One of my daughter’s mantras is “Be Kind.” I love this reminder of who we are at our truest nature. It is sad to see our world so far from this, lacking in toleration and kindness. I believe this is the result of us being unkind to ourselves. We have misplaced priorities and are not aligning with the divine flow of our lives. We drive ourselves hard seeking worldly successes while our souls whither away. We are unaware if we are tired, hungry, or in physical or emotional pain, and we leave little room for the things that speak to our soul. Rather than give ourselves compassion that we can then bring to others, we numb ourselves out and drive harder, never truly finding peace, rest or happiness.
What is kindness? It can be difficult to define such a vague word. When thinking about kindness, I usually think of a warm and friendly disposition toward another person. It is going out of your way to help others. It is showing gentleness and compassion towards everyone around you. A kind person is polite and well mannered, respectful, considerate, pleasant, agreeable, cheerful, upbeat, caring, helpful, positive, and complimentary. But the fruit of kindness, also known as benignity, is more about being kind to and tolerant toward others and is more than a simple smile or a generous act. It is shown out of a deep-rooted love. The kind of love a parent shows their child, unconditionally and eternally.
Today we explore the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness. Kindness is having a heart that is willing to do acts of compassion and give to others above and beyond what we owe to them. True kindness is aligned closely with forgiveness.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each another, just as in Christ God forgave you.Ephesians 4:31-32
As we mature in our faith, aligning our will with God’s, all the characteristics of our spiritual fruits grow. Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning, understanding, and living in the fruit of kindness:
- Kindness is important. In a study of 37 cultures around the world, 16,000 subjects were asked about their most desired traits in a mate. For both sexes, the first choice was kindness. Acclaimed psychologists John and Julie Gottman gathered data on successful marriages for decades and found that kindness was essential to a lasting union.
- Kindness begins with caring, being tenderhearted and compassionate. The Greek word for ‘kind’ is chrestos—meaning ‘useful.’ This means that kindness involves action. Truly kind people will actively look for opportunities to show kindness.
- Jesus Christ practiced kindness that was considered radical for that time and culture. His kindness often extended to the people that were not treated well, including the sick, poor, and social outcasts. He healed them, prayed with them, and fed them.
- Kindness is a virtue which “lifts the spirits” and “touches the hearts” of the people we encounter in our lives.
- Authentic kindness has the power to make other people’s lives more bearable, less miserable, to repair damaged self-esteem in a person, and even to produce joy and happiness in souls. It really is a tremendous power!
How do we cultivate the fruit of kindness? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Hold on to being loyal and loving. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 “Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 There’s a crucial link here between the two versions; this idea of kindness being love and truth being loyalty.
- Get honest with Jesus. The ultimate act of kindness is Jesus on the cross because it was done from a place of perfect love. If we want to stay in a true and loyal relationship with Him, we must be honest with Him. Truthfulness will only help us see his kindness more strongly.
- Thank God for the love and loyalty He’s shown us. He requires us to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8)
- Practice kindness. Look for ways to be kind, even something as small as a smile at a passing stranger. We should continue to ripen our fruit of kindness in the footsteps of Jesus, who personified the greatest example of kindness. Whether it’s paying for someone else’s coffee at the drive-through or writing a note of encouragement to a friend, kindness requires action. Of course, action can also include words—words of encouragement, comfort, courtesy, and compliments can be heartwarming acts of kindness.
- Wear kindness. Make it your first impression, your biggest feature – let the love of Jesus shining through you brighter than anything else.
Our world is in desperate need of the fruit of the Spirit of kindness. We need tender hearted people with a desire to share generously with others. In kindness, the Spirit gives. Let’s live by doing things differently. Let’s live in the Spirit with a merciful, gracious temperament in true love and “Be Kind” to ourselves and others.
Smitten with the fruit of kindness,