FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 15
KINDNESS – A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS TO HELP
This week we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit called Kindness.
There is some confusion about the terms gentleness, kindness and meekness as they appear in various translations of Galatians 5:22-23. In the King James Version we read:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”
The English Standard Version translates these verses as follows:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Note the words that are underlined … they are the words that cause some confusion due to varying translations. Here, we are looking at Kindness – translated Gentleness in the King James. This will be a bit different than the discussion of “gentleness” we come to later in the English standard version since that in King James is translated as Meekness. These words are all variations on a theme so don’t expect them to be blue verses red, but they have various nuances that are important for us to incorporate into our lives. Remember:
If it was important enough for the Scripture writer to use different words through the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is important enough for us to understand and to put those nuanced words into effect in our life.
As we all know, kindness is not something that is spoken of only in Scripture … it is a topic, like the other fruit of the Spirit we have studied, that is copied in the world today, although as with the other fruit of the Spirit, the world’s version is a significantly deteriorated version of what the Holy Spirit produces.
Mark Twain said:
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
The English writer Samuel Johnson said:
Then of course there is the profound negative that “No act of kindness goes unpunished!” Clearly, kindness is not looked upon favorably by everyone. If we are honest, even the pagan sees that kindness carries with it a cost which they may not be willing to pay. It may not be a cost in money, but it may cost time or effort, it may be inconvenient or it may interfere with long-held plans.
What does Scripture say?
However, kindness, according to the Holy Spirit, is not an inconvenience to be avoided but a characteristic to be embraced – it is a way of life to be adopted so that it flows naturally from you under all conditions, at all times. After all, remember that God is our example of loving kindness as He lavishly showers us with kindness through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Scripture we see that kindness follows patience, just as patience follows peace, and it follows joy and all the fruit is based on love. We might be nice and we might do good things, but the unregenerate man will not be kind in the way that the Holy Spirit would direct because the unregenerate person does not have love for Jesus Christ.
Dr. R. C. Sproul says
“Kindness is the manifestation of patience and it is born of the fact that we ourselves are objects of God’s kindness.”
As with the other fruit of the Spirit, we are to imitate Christ and extend the fruit of kindness irrespective of whether the individual receiving it appreciates our efforts or even knows that we have done anything for him. It is because of what Jesus did for us, not what the individual has done or could do for us, that we are kind.
The Greek word for kindness is Chrestotes. It is the divine kindness out of which God acts toward men. According to James Montgomery Boice, this kindness is what the Old Testament is referring to when it says “God is good” as it so frequently does. (Boice, Commentary on Galatians, 5:22-26)
We can afford to be kind even if it makes us vulnerable because underneath it all, we are unshakably secure in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The opposite of the fruit of the Spirit of kindness is envy and an inability to rejoice with another person. The counterfeit of kindness is manipulative good deeds. That is, being kind for what you get out of it, not what you are giving to the other person.
How does this apply to my daily life?
Kindness is not a random act of consideration. Rather, it is a constant state of readiness to help, the extension of God’s grace to the people around us through practical actions of caring.
In fact, it is similar to “goodness” which was a common term among the pagans in that day for complete moral excellence. In the Galatians 5 list of fruit of the Spirit, goodness is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and it indicates a willingness to be generous. (Rykers, Reformed Expository Commentary – Galatians) We will study goodness in the coming weeks.
Suffice it to say, kindness and goodness are similar, but different.
The great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:4 says “Love is patient and kind.” This is no accident. Last week we thought about longsuffering/ patience – that is, our remaining steadfast and enduring insults, false statements, physical or emotional injury without revenge or “getting even” no matter how long the injury lasts. It is L O N G suffering.
Kindness is the companion of longsuffering. Longsuffering is our personal response of restraint regarding an injury received – we do not take action against the wrongdoer. Kindness is where we do take action – we are kind toward him or her. We do good to those who hurt us – why? Because that is what Love does!
Next week we will continue to look at kindness and how it is manifested in our lives through the Holy Spirit’s work.
Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.