Do you ever have a “well, duh!” moment? I just did as I mentally scrolled through the different fruits of the Spirit. It occurred to me halfway through writing on the nine virtues that all are attributes of God himself, and the Holy Spirit enables us to become more like Christ and less like ourselves by growing us in these characteristics. Duh!
Kindness is numero cinco listed in Galatians 5:22-23. I am kind…of working on being better at this one. Some people are just naturally sweet and think more of others than they do themselves. I can think of several friends who blow me out of the water in this area, although they’re too nice to say so.
Let’s look at what God (the source of all love and kindness) says about it:
Unfailing kindness. That is our God. Heart emoji, heart emoji.
Kindness goes hand in hand with compassion, humility, and forgiveness. It is unkind to withhold forgiveness, and so like God to forgive (remember that Jesus guy? Died on the cross so we could receive forgiveness?). Both kindness and forgiveness also bring about something of utmost importance in God’s kingdom: unity. You can’t have unity apart from them.
Truth and kindness are also compatible! This is great news! I know some of us lean more one way or another, but we need to find that sweet spot where we aren’t sacrificing truth in order to appear kind, and those of us who lean more heavily on the truth side must always, always strive to be kind as we share truth.
For a long time, I thought this verse only meant we could see how kind God was, and that’s what would lead us to turn from sin and follow Jesus. I think it can mean that, and God certainly is kind, but more accurately I see God’s kindness through the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to how lost and in need of a Savior we are. This owning of our sinfulness compels us to run to the only One able to heal us of this terminal disease, and it’s then we truly see the incomparable kindness of the God who was willing to die in our place.
We probably won’t have to go that far, but kindness does require intentionality and practice. Kindness is treating others well at all times, speaking the truth in love, showing up when you are able, and extending grace as many times as necessary. Kindness is being the hands and feet of the God. It is beautiful, when the intentions behind it are pure, but that’s another story for another day.
The truth-loving part of me wants to point out unforgiveness and division as incompatible with Christian kindness (see ya, CRT!), so I will. But I’m saying it kindly.
Love you guys. Kind of.