The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

In 1970, country artist Glen Campbell released an album titled Try a Little Kindness, which included a song with the same title. The song spoke of not just the need for kindness, but also the benefit that the kindness of individuals can have on the world. The lyrics suggest that we all try a little kindness and equate that show of kindness with shining your light so that all around you can see it. Kindness is an important attribute for all of us to have.

Kindness is the fifth fruit of the Spirit. The dictionary definition of kindness is the quality or the state of being kind. It refers to treating people with respect, friendliness, generosity, and consideration. Seems simple doesn’t it? But it may not be as easy as it seems. Kindness is an attribute of God, but it is not something that is consistently found in people. Part of the reason for this is that what we refer to as kindness is not clearly understood. When we speak of the English word “kindness,” we can also mean goodness, mercy, love, compassion, and tenderness. Even in the Greek language of the New Testament, there are many words that are translated as kindness.

In Galatians 5:22, the Greek word translated as “kindness” in the list of the fruit of the Spirit is chrēstotēs, a word that can mean kindness or goodness. (Note: The next fruit of the Spirit is goodness, which we will see, comes from a different Greek word). This Greek word can describe gentleness, goodness, uprightness, generosity, and graciousness. All of these words, like kindness, can be used in describing the character of God. Scripture teaches us that God is kind to all of His creation (Psalm 145:9). It is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4) and ultimately to the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7-8).

Scripture also teaches us that kindness is necessary in the life of all people, and especially in the life of believers. We are taught that we should love kindness (Micah 6:8). Jesus even taught that we should be kind to our enemies, loving them and doing good to them. Why? Because God is kind not just to those who are good, but also to those who are ungrateful and evil (Luke 6:35-36). God’s Word also says that kindness is a characteristic of true love (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Kindness is a necessary virtue for a believer to have. We are told in Scripture that, as those chosen by God, as believers, we are to put on several virtues, one of which is kindness (Colossians 3:12). As believers, we are to imitate Christ, to imitate God. Since God is kind, we must be kind. But kindness does not come naturally to our human nature. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that kindness can be a consistent attribute of our lives. When we walk in step with the Spirit, He will enable us to produce the fruit of kindness each and every day. And, as Glen Campbell sang, we will shine our light for all to see, a light that reflects the light of Christ.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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