Thank you for reading the previous posts on the Fruit of the Spirit (Fruit of the Spirit #1: An Introduction, Fruit of the Spirit #2: It all begins with Love, Part 1, Fruit of the Spirit #3: It all begins with Love, Part 2, Fruit of the Spirit #4: Joy, Fruit of the Spirit #5: Peace and Fruit of the Spirit #6: Patience).
In this post, I’d like to take a brief look at the next Fruit of the Spirit that follows Love, Joy, Peace and Patience, which is Kindness.
We’re midway through our exploration of the Fruit of the Spirit as we look at the fruit Kindness. Although you’d think that the beneficial properties of Kindness would primarily be for the benefit of others, this fruit actually focuses on the development of this characteristic within ourselves. Here’s why.
Kindness (Chrestotes) does mean that we produce and engage in (with God’s help of course) behaviors that are kind, useful and profitable. On the face of it, it would make sense that any “acts of Kindness” that we deliver to others are flavored with these characteristics and outcomes in mind.
However, as we continue to reflect on the meaning of Kindness, it goes right to the root and the heart of our being by indicating that Kindness is “the grace which pervades our whole nature, mellowing all that would be harsh (ungentle and unpleasant in action or effect) and austere (severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising, strict, lacking softness).”
Jesus used this word (Chrestotes) in Matthew 11:28-30, when He invited us to “learn from Him,” because His nature (and the nature that He desires to cultivate within us) is “gentle, and humble in heart.” He states that His yoke is “easy” (Chrestotes), His burden is light and that by engaging in His prescribed process, we’ll find rest for our souls and levity within our mind, character and behavior.
So let’s pull this together. The Fruit of Kindness, like all of the other fruit, are developed within us and illustrated by us because we’ve made a choice to have a living connection with Jesus. Because of our choice(s), we learn not only who Jesus is, but we also learn of and take on His character, which in this context is gentle, humble in heart and Kind. By Jesus’ own words, He states when we “take on this easy or kind task” of allowing His heart to permeate and pervade our heart, we will experience rest, balance and lightness of mind. I think His intention is that we experience it personally, then practice or provide this fruit positively to others who come into our presence, as He practiced it when others came into His presence. Does this seem possible? In light of this, could you see yourself connecting with God to cultivate the fruit of Kindness in your life?
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” – Philippians 2:13 (TNIV)
I wish I could say that I have a great batting record with being kind to myself or with others. Unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful in demonstrating Kindness when it was most needed, and at other times I’ve been tempted and have given in to the practice of unkind behavior which harmed me and the other person(s) involved.
Thankfully today, because of my living connection with Jesus, the Holy Spirit does a very great job of reminding me (within a short period of time as well) that its not in my job description to do things that are contrary to Kindness, such as being harsh, austere, criticizing, condescending, quarreling, holding others in contempt or saying cutting remarks (which is Apotomia, or the opposite of Chrestotes). All of these character defects are Enemy #1 against Kindness and I’ve seen the practice of these defects of character kill off the possibility and growth of Kindness because they’re rooted in the devaluation and dehumanization of others. Today, I simply don’t want to live like that!
What helps me to hit the psychological and spiritual “Ctl – Alt – Del” or reset button is to remember that I have a choice: I could either engage in practices that are the equivalent of breaking glass on the floor (to hurt all involved) and practice any of the Killer D’s (especially Dispute # 18), or I could practice any of the “Empowering E’s,” which tend to put me closer to the demonstration of the fruit of Kindness.
I’ve also realized that if I don’t give myself the option to harm others then more than likely, I won’t harm them. Equally, if I elect to live within my boundaries, as determined by the descriptors of Love and the Fruit of the Spirit, then more than likely I’ll be a bit more successful in reaching my target behavior, which is the fruit of Kindness.
In closing, I’m reminded that I don’t, nor can’t produce Kindness on my own. The above-referenced scripture in Philippians reminds me that its God’s will and desire to cultivate these qualities of character in my life if I so choose, and yes, I want to direct my will to align with His will.
My hope for you is that you will make a similar choice, per your relationship with God, to invite Him to permeate and pervade all that you are in order to experience the grace, gentleness, humility and mellowness that typifies Kindness. Equally, I hope this will result in you experiencing internal peace, as well as engaging in kind, useful and profitable behavior in your life and in your relationships.
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