KINDNESS: Fruit 5 of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22e
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness ( patience is love, joy, and peace being calm under pressure; kindness is love, joy, peace, and patience on display. Believers, be kind, be proactive in meeting people’s needs.

Serve others. In our impersonal, harsh world, kindness is a refreshing rain falling on the parched soil of human hearts, an oasis in the desert, a hospital near a battlefield (Powell).

Kindness is love in action, grace at work. Christianity is not satisfied with passive virtue. When hurt, we are to be not only patient, turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), but also actively performing kind deeds for the one who hurt us. God set the example. He is gracious, even to “the ungrateful and evil” (Luke 6:35).

Our Master said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44b-45).

First, kindness manifests itself in kind looks. A look can speak volumes. Blessed is the person who displays a pleasant face. My dad wears a grin naturally. His face is perpetually fixed in a smile.

Most of us are not as blessed. Our natural look is usually halfway between a blank and a snarl. We have to consciously focus to put on a soft, kind face. The results are worth the effort. Our faces can and should be a benediction.

Second, kindness manifests itself in kind words. A kind person uses kind words to lift up others, to help ease their pain, to lighten their load.

Mamie Adams always went to a particular branch post office because its employees were friendly. She went there one day to buy stamps just before Christmas. The lines being long, someone told her there was no need to wait because a stamp machine was in the lobby. “I know,” said Mamie, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.” Kind words cost us nothing, but do a million dollars worth of good.

Since people tend to echo the type of words they hear, if we will use kind words often, they will awaken kind echoes, spreading like a happy wave in an ever widening circle throughout our orb of influence.

There is a place in our conversations for constructive criticism, but we need not go out of our way looking for things to criticize. These opportunities come in abundant supply on their own without our seeking them.

We should spend our time looking for things to praise. Be a talking benediction.

Third, kindness manifests itself in kind deeds. If kindness is not being seen in action, Christ’s love is absent.

Do kind deeds everywhere, beginning at home. Jesus was kind to His family. On the cross, He was not concerned about His own welfare to the forgetting of His kin. He made sure His mother was cared for.

A generation ago the grown children of a fine Christian deacon told me, “Our dad is kinder to everyone else at church than he is to us.” May it never be!

Every Christian virtue should incubate and flower in the home. What we appear to be at church let us actually be at home.

Be kind to our own flesh and blood. Bless them. A truly kind person will be a blessing at home, easy to live with.

Christian love finds ways to be practical. Believers are ever in danger of becoming merely religious sentimentalists, feeling much, but doing little.

We often sympathize without acting. Our pews hold many sensitive plants not bearing fruit.

I read of a mother who asked her children each evening what they had done that day to make others happy. It would be good for us all to take this exam daily.

Jesus’ strongest love for us was shown to us through a deed, an act of sacrifice. His kindness was demonstrated at huge expense to Himself. “He saved others; but He cannot save Himself!” (Matthew 27:42). The words, hurled as a taunt by the chief priests, were in fact noble praise.

Jesus could not save both. He chose to save others and sacrifice Himself. Sacrifice marked Jesus’ kindness; there must be sacrifice in ours too.

We sometimes mistakenly think salvation was given to us primarily to make us happy. In the long run, it will give us total satisfaction, but in this lifetime salvation calls us to endure pain and demands us to take up a cross on behalf of others.

Our Master was kind. A leper came for healing (Matthew 8:1-4) immediately after the Sermon on the Mount. Lepers by law had to cup a hand over their mouths and cry aloud, “Unclean! Unclean!” Wherever they walked, crowds parted as people drew back in horror.

Lepers always had a huge empty circle around them. This explains why the leper could walk right up to Jesus, who was surrounded by a crowd. The throngs drew back. “But the Lord did not move. The Savior stood right there where He was in the center of that icy, chilling, ever-present, empty circle” (Criswell).

Jesus had said some beautiful, loving things in His Sermon on the Mount, but now it was time to embody His words with true kindness. Jesus reached out His hand, and touched the leper. This kind touch in and of itself was half the cure the leper needed. Our Lord was kind.

On another occasion (Matthew 19:13-15), mothers tried to bring their children to Jesus “so He might put His hands on them and pray.” Children cannot help us climb a corporate ladder, help us get elected to positions of influence, or improve our popularity ratings. The disciples, believing Jesus had more important things to do, “rebuked” the mothers, scolded them for trying to bother the Master.

The Lord, though, understanding what it means to be kind, said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me.” Then He, the ruler of the Universe, interrupted His busy schedule, took children in His arms, and blessed them. Jesus was kind.

Another day (Matthew 14:15-21), a crowd of 5,000 had stayed near Jesus all day. The disciples, knowing a bit of what kindness was about, suggested Jesus encourage the people to go to town to buy food for themselves. Jesus lifted them to a higher plane of kindness, “They don’t need to go away . . . You give them something to eat.” Jesus was kind.

Blind Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52) cried aloud, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” The people around him, trying to be kind to Jesus, and to avoid an embarrassing situation, told Bartimeus to hush, but the Lord said, “Call him.”

Bartimeus was healed and “began to follow Jesus on the road.” Folks like to be around kind people. Do people enjoy our company? Jesus was kind.

Queen Victoria once hosted a diplomatic reception at which the guest of honor was an African chieftain. All went well until finger bowls were brought. The guest of honor had never seen a British finger bowl, and no one had briefed him beforehand about its hand-cleaning purpose. Taking the finger bowl in his hands, he lifted it to his mouth, and drank its contents to the last drop.

For an instant there was breathless silence among the British upper crust. Then they began to whisper. All this stopped the instant Queen Victoria lifted her finger bowl, and drank its contents! A moment later 500 surprised British ladies and gentlemen simultaneously drank the contents of their finger bowls.

We now tend to downplay the importance of courtesy and manners. In losing them we lost much of the loving Christian kindness which prompted them.

Kindness is one of our best hopes for winning unbelievers. It can make their road to salvation less difficult. Our kindness calls attention to God’s kindness, which has as its purpose to lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4).