The Fruit of Kindness

We’re halfway through our study on the fruit of the Spirit: so far we’ve considered love, joy, peace, and patience. Now let’s turn our attention to kindness.

And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!”

(Ruth 2:20a)

Kindness is stronger than death. I find the insight of this passage profound. For a girl with abandonment issues, this verse is gospel good news. God not only chases us with His overwhelming kindness while we’re conscious of it (which is outlandish enough); He will continue pursuing us long after we’re finished. There will never ever ever be a moment His kids are left without the kindness of the Lord nipping at our heels into eternity.

And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

(2 Samuel 9:7)

Kindness is for underdogs. The recipient of this generous invitation is a poor kid named Mephibosheth. Unfortunate name, unfortunate life… until the king’s unsought kindness seeks him out. In case you missed it, he’s a picture of us—deserving of death (he was of the previous royal bloodline and would typically be killed when the new king assumed the throne), entirely incapable of providing for himself, and the very last person you’d expect to see dining with the royal family. But kindness prompted David to prefigure Christ as a beautiful display of the grace we’re shown.*

He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

(Job 6:14)

Kindness requires intention. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t remember the last time kindness accidentally slipped out of me. Like, “Oops! I couldn’t help that sweet thing I said when you cut me off in traffic.” It typically takes some effort, some forethought, which makes it mean more when we extend it. So let’s get creative on how to throw kindness around like confetti. Or at least on how to keep from saying as many unsweet things when we’re cut off in traffic.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

(Proverbs 31:26)

Kindness needs a platform. Just as advocates fight to keep the fine arts in schools, crying against the dying of the light in the next generation, so we need gutsy women teaching about how to sparkle the love of Jesus in relevant, robust ways. Imagine how quickly the world would take notice if we really treated others as we want to be treated.

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.

(Hosea 11:4)

Kindness is personal. Can’t you sense the tenderness here? A God who gets down on His knees, bending low so that He’s face to face with the one He loves? Kindness looks people in the eyes. It sees the need and runs to meet it. It is admittedly vulnerable—the Lord knelt so low He ended up on a cross. But kindness that doesn’t risk much isn’t worth much.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8)

Kindness is courage. I’m slightly more afraid of conflict than I should be, which stunts my ability to extend kindness. When I’m more concerned about maintaining the safety of the status quo, I can’t speak up for the least of these. When I’m afraid of what that person will think, I can’t work justice and mercy out through this tongue and these fingers and this heart. Tim Keller talks about the freedom of self forgetfulness. It’s only when I can get over myself that kindness is an option.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.”

(Zechariah 7:9)

Kindness is commanded. It’s not just a thing your mom said to do. It’s a thing your God says to do. (I’m still hunting for the addendum that says “when you feel like it.” I’ll keep you posted.) Listen. Kindness is hard. It’s inconvenient. It’s uncomfortable. It’s countercultural. But at the end of the day, we choose to submit to the rule of our King because He’s God and we’re not.

Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

(Romans 2:4)

Kindness is a lifeline. It’s what led us to the kingdom in the first place, and it’s what leads us over and over into getting right with Jesus. God doesn’t shower us with grace so that He can feel good about Himself. He doesn’t need that kind of divine ego boost. Kindness has an end goal: our reconciliation with Him. Our kindness also has an end goal: God’s reconciliation with the world. So let’s love like it matters.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

(Ephesians 2:4-7)

Kindness is scandalous. One of my core values is justice. I like it when things are fair. You get a slice of pie, I get an equally big, equally awesome slice of pie. I get a time out, you get an equally long, equally terrible time out. Kindness, though, is on a completely different plane. If God had offered me justice, I’d be hanging on a tree right now with no past and no future. Praise Jesus! Justice has been served through Christ, and all that’s left for us is the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

(Colossians 3:12)

Kindness kills self. One of the strongest weapons against my flesh is keeping in mind my great need and your great need. My great need was met at Calvary, so I can let the Spirit move toward your great need through how I love on you. None of this is manufactured or auto-powered; kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, not a fruit of the self. I say yes, and God shows you kindness through me. My self-centeredness dies a little. My identity as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, grows a little. And kindness wins the day.

*If you love music, check out the lyrical rendering of Mephibosheth’s story (and our own): Leeland’s Carried to the Table.

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