The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness


Kindness is one of the virtues that we often desire to attain.  A typical New Year’s resolution, “I resolve to be more kind in 2017!”  Unfortunately, our resolutions are so often broken almost as soon as they are spoken.

The Greek word translated as kindness in Gal. 5 is chrestotes.  Chrestotes means “goodness, uprightness, righteous.”  Biblical “kindness is a response of the heart, not a resolve of the will.  It is the kindness of God toward us that engenders genuine and lasting kindness from us to others.”  (Stookey p. 47)  Biblical kindness connotes generosity, a giving spirit that reflects how God treats us.

God’s kindness is one of God’s communicable attributes:

Rom. 2:4 (NLT) Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?  Does this mean nothing to you?  Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

Rom. 11:22 (NLT) Notice how God is both kind and severe.  He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness.  But if you stop trusting you also will be cut off.

God’s kindness toward humanity is related to God’s mercy or lovingkindness and grace (Hebrew chesed; Greek charis).  “What kindness has God shown to me, in forgiving my sins, in providing for my needs, in granting me hope and everlasting life?  How can I express my gratitude for this unmerited goodness of God?”  (Stookey 47)

God’s kindness should inspire us to examine ourselves by asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the opportunities to express kindness toward another person in our daily life.  What opportunities for kindness do we miss?  What occasions for kindness might we find?

Generous God, what goodness you show to us day by day.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  Your mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning, new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness, O God!  Great is your faithfulness!

It is from you, then, that we learn kindness.  Grant us your grace to extend your grace and kindness to others.  Accept our gifts of kindness toward others as a pleasing sacrifice to you of praise and thanksgiving, and grant that we may continue in your kindness forever; through Christ, who, upon the cross, made known most fully the extent of your perfect love.  Amen.  (Stookey 47, 48)

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