“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Now that we’re getting into the more precise Fruits of the Spirit, there’s not as broad a spectrum of verses to talk about. I found two forms of kindness in my research, both which are told to us in the verse below.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32
The two forms I’ll be talking about are these: kindness (like we would know it ~ niceness, if you will) and compassion (pity on others). Forgiveness, naturally, is also mentioned in this verse, and that is a big part of being a believer. In some ways, forgiveness can go under a third quality of kindness: mercy. But we won’t talk about forgiveness in this post.
“Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” ~ Daniel 4:27
Good ol’ King Nebuchadnezzar (a name none of us could say as kids, let alone spell) has just had another weird dream. This time it was about a tree. The tree was enormous and beautiful, with much fruit, and every creature was fed by it. But then a messenger came from heaven and created a bit of chaos. He had the branches trimmed, the leaves stripped, and the fruit scattered, and the animals sheltering in the tree fled. But he left the stump alone. Then he started saying things about King Nezzy (though somehow King Nezzy didn’t know he was talking about him).
Luckily, Daniel was there and came along to interpret the dream for him. In the verse I mentioned above, he’s telling King Nezzy, “Unless you learn to quit being so bloody mean, God’s going to make you live like an animal for seven years.”
Okay, so he didn’t say it like that. Nobody would say that to a king unless they wanted to lose their head. Basically what Daniel’s saying is that King Nezzy ~ and those of us reading this verse now ~ needs to not only stop being evil, but start doing good.
This is where kindness comes in.
“They replied, ‘If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.'” ~ 2 Chronicles 10:7
Vwoorp! Vwoorp! Stepping out of our handy-dandy Bible TARDIS, we can see that we’re now in the presence of another king, Rehoboam (and that I’ve completely lost it). Rehoboam had just become king after his father Solomon died. The Israelites were put under heavy labor during Solomon’s rule, and they wanted Rehoboam to lighten it. He, being a young king and having no idea what he’s doing, went to the elders to see what they thought he should do. They gave him the advice mentioned above.
What the elders have learned after all their years is that good words cost nothing, but they can buy good things. As a king, being merciful to his subjects would help them trust him and be loyal to him. Giving a little kindness to people will bring blessing upon yourself, which we get to see in this next verse.
“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” ~ Proverbs 11:17
A person that is naturally kind and/or one that has grown in Christ’s love will get pleasure from doing his God-given duty and contributing to the comfort of those around him. Not only will he get satisfaction out of his work, he will find that God will rain down spiritual blessings on him for being kind to others and helping them when they need it, and God’s spiritual blessings will do the best good to your soul. As Matthew Henry’s Commentary adds, “The disposition which inclines him to be charitable to others will oblige him to allow himself also that which is convenient and to enjoy the good of all his labor.”
However, doing evil toward others will, just like with King Nezzy, only bring pain and hardship upon yourself, so keep that in mind.
Now flip over a page or two to our next verse.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” ~ Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety sucks, doesn’t it? We’ve all been anxious over something at some point in our lifetimes. Those who are more prone to stress know probably better than anybody how ti can slow you down and take you off your best game. But the encouragement of a kind word from a friend (or possibly someone you don’t even know) ~ a word sent by God through faith ~ cheers you up and strengthens your heart, particularly if it’s the words of the gospel. The gospel is designed to make the heart glad. Jesus said it himself: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
And of course, the least we can do for someone who is suffering is to sympathize with them, listen to them, comfort them, help them all we can, and have a sincere, tender concern for them that is also known as compassion.
“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” ~ Proverbs 14:21
Maybe you have bad neighbors. I have bad neighbors. But whether they’re bad or good shouldn’t change your inclination to be kind to them. Sure, maybe they haven’t done anything nice for you ~ but maybe they’re thinking the same thing you are. Maybe they’re thinking, “Well, THEY haven’t done anything for ME. Why should I do anything for them?” And so neither of you do anything. Ever. You just stay to your side of the fence and commence in mutual ignorance.
The verse from Proverbs above tells us that this is NOT what we are meant to do. As Christians, we are called to love everyone (as I put in my first post in this section about love). A person who is ready to do all he can to help his neighbor brings honor on himself, and, as we’ll see in our next verse, honor to God as well.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:35-36, 40
When He returns, Jesus is saying, and we are standing before him to be judged, all the things we’ve done for the poor and needy will be brought to light. The goodness and kindness and compassion we offered them will all be paid back. Those who have any honor for God will show it through their compassion for the poor. Giving food and drink and clothing to a needy person, offering hospitality and shelter to the homeless, and visiting the sick are all seen and recognized by God, even though we are told by him to do it not so others can see and praise you for it, but, as it says in Matthew 6:1-4, to be quiet about it, “so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4)
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness.” ~ Romans 11:22